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France's Supremely Regal Valley Of The Loire River

Aug 17, 2007
Renowned for its lavish castles, the relics of royal days gone by, the glorious valley of the Loire is rich in both history and architecture. Like the river Loire, this huge area runs through the heart of French life. Its sophisticated cities, luscious landscape and magnificent wine and food add up to a bourgeois paradise. The lush Valley of the Loire River is incredibly regal.

In the 13th century, Orleans was the intellectual capital of France. Artists, poets and troubadours were attracted to its royal court.

Also ripe for discovery are the troglodyte caves, sleepy hamlets, and small Romanesque churches decorated with frescoes. Inviting guesthouses offer game, fish and plentiful fresh vegetables to be lingered over with full-bodied Bourgueil or a light white Vouvray. Overindulgence is no sin in this rich region.

The Chenonceau Chateau, the "Chateau des dames", is incredibly breathtaking and built on a bridge across the river Cher. King Henri II gave it to his favourite, Diane de Poitiers, but his wife Catherine de Medici demanded it back upon the untimely death of Henri II after a jousting accident - who can blame her it is such a gem. Diane was offered Chateau Chaumont on the banks of the Loire River opposite Onzain in exchange. But Diane never set foot there, instead retreating to Chateau Anet, where she died in 1566, seven years after Henri's demise.

Madame Dupin also had a pivotal role in the development of Chenonceau in the 18th century and was responsible for encouraging literary events to be held here. The likes of Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu all spending time here. Today Chenonceau is a profitable business owned by the Menier family who are known as respected chocolatiers.

The Blois Castle, capital of the kingdom from (1498-1595), was stirred by the last starts of the Valois dynasty. It is like visiting four different chateaux rolled into one - so different are the architectural elements at play in the four wings.

The Medieval heart is centred on the Salle des Etats Generaux that is where the court and council were based. Flamboyant Gothic flair is evident in the Louis XII wing whereas Renaissance architecture is the dominant style in the Francois 1 wing. It is in the Francois 1 wing that you'll find Catherine de Medici's private rooms complete with her array of poisons.

This was also the spot where the Duc de Guise was brutally murdered in 1588 after he was thought to be planning a Catholic uprising against Henri III. Apparently, it was Henri who carried out the deed himself only to be murdered himself a year later by a monk.

Lastly, the Gaston d'Orleans wing will satisfy any cravings for Classical architecture. Evenings are a particularly good time to visit Blois especially if you book to see the 'son et lumiere' shows that recount the chateau's turbulent past.

One of the purest creations of the Renaissance, the Chateau Azay le Rideau, was built on an island of the River Indre River ideal setting for an architectural treasure

The Chambord chateau, pinnacle of the Renaissance, combined the dream of King Francois the First with the imagination of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived at Clos Luce also open to the public, in Amboise for the last four years of his life.

The result is a real "mathematisation" of architecture, a grandiose creation: 440 rooms,a fabulous double helix staircase,a chimney for every day of the year and unique roof terrace. Over its history Chateau Chambord has only ever been used as a residence for 20 years. It is the most recognisable chateau roof line in the world.

The Loire Valley is full of not only royal castles and renaissance palaces, national museum and large magnificent chateaux, but also medieval castles and fortresses, small fairy tale manors, private chateaux, medieval cities, churches, abbeys, and cathedrals. Many chateaux and stately homes are open to the public: some are state owned, such as Chambord and Blois; others are private, and still lived in. A large proportion of them run son-et-lumiere shows during the tourist season. Chateau de Chenonceau and Chateau de Chambord are definitely worth a visit and are close to Blois.
About the Author
Corina Clemence operates a luxury french chateau in the Loire Valley near Blois, for up to fifteen people perfect for family holidays and for touring vineyards and chateaux and relaxing. It is ideal for a french wedding, party or event. Rent the whole castle or rent a suite. Rent a castle in France. Hire castle - hire chateau Rent chateau France http://www.loirechateau.com Rent castle
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