This week I am in the city of Tours in the Loire Valley of France. I am staying at Hotel Ronsard in the old city and close to the railway station. It is an excellent place for train transport to the famous chateaux of the area. I picked up some brochures from the tourist information centre and was very tempted to take one or more of the conducted bus tours but  I had a week so there was no hurry and conducted tours  are more expensive than DIYC but I would recommend the bus tours if you only have a couple of days in the area.

 Today I am having a rest day from chateaux-ing. There is one more I want to visit tomorrow. Here, in order of preference, are photos of the  five chateaux I have seen this week.

Major renovations are underway at Chenonceau much of it on the foundations in the river. The River Cher flows under the gallery of the chateau and there are views of the river from most rooms, even the servants quarters. It has furniture from the period in the many rooms. It had the biggest crowds of any of the chateaux and I found it very difficult to photograph. It’s known as the ladies’chateau as its designers and owners were women such as Diane de Poiters and Catherine de Medici. The rooms were a comfortable size made for living in, not just impressing the visitors. It had lovely gardens around it.

The chateau of Cheverny, above,  has been home to the Hurault family for six centuries. The Marquis and Marquise de Vibraye have apartments in one of the wings. All the rooms are beautifully furnished with family furniture, like the nursery.

Outside the chateau you can wander round the grounds and the gardens. The kitchen garden supplies all the flowers for the chateau.

Next to the kitchen garden are the kennels where over 100 French hounds are kept. They are used in the hunting season twice a week from October to March. When I saw them they were lolling around a big enclosure looking well-fed on French Chum.

For the chateau owner out to impress it would be hard to go past  Chambord with its crazy roof line. Could they fit more up there?

Chambord is big. It has huge rooms which are very hard to fill with furniture so it seemed very empty. There is a magnificent double spiral carved staircase as you enter the chateau and another on the outside of the building. The chateau is on a big estate with a long, straight road leading to it.

Number 4 on the favourites  list is Amboise with its views of the Loire Valley. Leonardo da Vinci was invited by the French court to work at Amboise in 1516. He devoted his time to drawing and teaching. He died at Amboise in 1519 and is interred there.

Last on the list is Blois. It was built by the same king as built Chambord, Francois 1 but he ran out of money. It is a mish-mash of styles, gothic, Renaissance and something the brochure calls ‘Classicism’.

It was the only chateau with no park-like grounds or even beautiful gardens. It is right in the centre of the city of Blois and seemed very neglected, though it did have good views from the ramparts

Of course, all these photos would look so much better if the sun had been shining. Maybe I’ll be able to wear something other than jeans and jumper next week!


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