Discovering the Loire Valley it is like discovering a fairy-tale land
Castles – are at once elegant and luxurious, refined and flamboyant as well as they are considered one of the most magic places in France. Imagine more than 30 castles in one place along a beautiful riverside. Each chateau has its own history and secrets… The picturesque nature drew royalty to build their "country homes" in the valley. Nearby Forests was perfect place for hunting during official visits. Nowadays the Loire Valley represents the biggest number of castles in the Word. Each castle has traces of a royalty therefore they have a lot of myths, breathtaking history and legends. Moreover the Loire valley is famous by its best wines.
Let’s get through some famous stories and legends of the Loire Castles
Chateau de Chenonceau
Property of the Crown, then royal residence, the Chenonceau castle is very exceptional not only because of its original architecture, the abundance of its collections, its furniture and its decorations, but also because of its destiny, since it was administrated and protected by two extraordinary women and it preserves a love story.
King Henry II got married with Catherine de Medici's for the political reasons. However, all his life his heart belonged to a very beautiful lady Diane de Poitiers. Catherine de Medici was aware about their relationship although she was powerless to change the situation.
The King Henry II offered the Chenonceau Castle to her mistress Diane de Poitiers. The lady was fascinated with the castle and initiated the construction of its gardens and the bridge that now crosses the River Cher.
Upon Henry's death, his spouse Catherine de Medici drove Diane out, but not without a consolation: Catherine gave her husband's mistress the Chateau Chaumont, with the view to the Loire River. After Catherine's death in 1589, the castle passed to King Henry III's wife, Louise de Lorraine-Vaudemont.
The Chateau de Chenonceau straddles the River Cher which, during World War II, served as the natural boundary between German-occupied France and the "free zone" of Vichy. The castle thus served as a bridge to freedom for many French seeking to escape Nazi rule.
Chateau de Blois
The Chateau de Blois was the favoured residence of Kings of France for over a century.
The Salle des Etats, the only part of the building, that survived from the 13th century, It was destined for council and court, and is the best preserved Gothic hall in the Loire.
The most intriguing room is Catherine de Medici's study. Its walls contained 237 secret cabinets, full of jewels, state papers and potions. People believed, that her wall of cabinets served as a repository of poisons collection that she might have kept to do away with those who plotted against her or her husband King Henry II. Nowadays, historians discovered that it served as an elegant curio cabinet in which she displayed precious objects.
The central feature of this castle is the monumental staircase. Balzac defined it as: “elaborate like ivory china”, stairs is covered with ornate Renaissance sculptures, Italian decorative detail (statues, banisters, candelabras) and royal emblems.
Chateau de Chambord
The designer of the Chateau de Chambord is unknown, but some believes, that it is a work of Leonardo da Vinci because the Italian artist had an interest in double helix staircases, a principal feature of the castle.
In the days of Francis I, Chateau de Chambord wasn’t convenient for a long-term residence. For all its richness, there were no villages nearby to stock it with everyday necessities. So for every visit of Francis and his entourage, all their provisions were transported by long caravans of carriages. It was quite a complicated, as the number of hosts could reach up to 2,000 people!
As Nazi troops spread throughout Europe, curators of the Louvre shipped very precious masterpieces to the Chateau de Chambord for safekeeping. The Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo were among the treasures secretly stored here.
Chateau de Loire keeps a lot of mysteries, charming beauties and royal luxury. It will give you an impression that you would never forget!
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