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The Playful Adventure Of Castle Hopping In The Enchanting Loire Valley In France

Aug 17, 2007
France's Loire Valley has the grandest selection of 15th and sixteenth century castles. With fifty to sixty "must see" castles scattered on both sides of a 100-mile sweep of the Loire River, the first-time visitor can feel overwhelmed. Details of 5 of the best-known castles are below.

Chateau Chambord

King Francois I was not content with just the castles at Chenonceau and Amboise. He acquired over 10,000 acres of hunting land and decided to construct the world's most magnificent "hunting lodge". Chambord was built over many decades by Francois and his successors, Henri II and Charles IX in the sixteenth century.

Fully restored now, Chambord stands as the most extravagant of all the Loire chateaux - 500 feet wide with 440 rooms and 365 fireplaces. The central grand staircase was supposedly designed by the Italian great, Leonardo da Vinci. It has double spirals which enable two parties of people to climb and descend simultaneously without meeting. Chambord will reward any visit with its grandeur and extravagance.

Chateau Chenonceau

Chenonceau Chateau amazes you with its two-story, 260-foot Great Gallery arching over the River Cher. Originally "acquired" by King Francois I, it then passed to his successor, Henri II, who gifted it in 1547 to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Diane expanded the chateau and built a bridge over the river.

When Henri II died, his wife, Catherine de Medici, took revenge on her rival by forcing Diane to exchange Chateau Chenonceau for nearby Chateau Chaumont. Catherine then commissioned the construction of the bridge gallery. Unbelievably extravagant galas were held here until Catherine's son, Henry III, was murdered. His wife, Louise de Savoie, placed the castle in mourning, furnishing it entirely in black and white.

History leaps out as you tour the rooms and the gardens. In world war I the Great Gallery was converted to a hospital. In world war II the chateau marked the boundary between Nazi-occupied and free France and became the site of prisoner exchanges. Today the chateau and grounds are maintained at their height as if they were at under Catherine de Medici.

Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire

Built in the 15th century by Lord Amboise on the site of a 10th century feudal fortress, Chaumont commands incredible views of the Loire Valley. It was later the home of both Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici of Castle Chenonceau fame. Enjoy this chateau for its fortress feeling, drawbridge, furnishings, tapestry, and incredible vistas.

Chateau Amboise

Amboise's narrowed cobbled streets wind at the base of the large. Although only 25% of the original chateau survives, the fortress walls with flying banners look down on the village and neighboring river. It was here that King Francois I hit his head on a low arch, fatally wounding him.

Chateau Clos Luce

Not more than a half mile from Amboise is Chateau Le Clos Luce, a chateau built and designed by Leonardo da Vinci. He lived the last three years of his life here under Francois I's sponsorship. The rooms are filled with 40 models of Leonardo's inventions so you can marvel at his foresight and impressive mental powers 500 years earlier.

Whilst chateau hopping remember to take the time to happen upon some local wine cellars, for "degustation" or tasting Take the time to relax and enjoy your holiday.
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 castle http://www.loirechateau.com Rent chateau France Rent a castle in France. Hire castle - hire chateau
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