Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chateaux Country -Chambord - 7-17-09

The first chateau we visited was Chambord, the largest of the chateaux in the Loire Valley. The valley is southwest of Paris and the Loire River basically divides France into north and south. The south is where most of the crops are grown. Only around the Loire valley in the north can crops like apples, pears, etc. be grown.

Chambord is owned by the government and is open to the public. It is thought that Leonardo da Vinci may have helped planned it because it has a very different architecture than many built in those days and because Leonardo actually visited the castle at its owner's invitation. In fact, he died in France and his body is buried not far from here in Ambroise. The castle walls are only one story high, not much protection from invaders, but it looks medieval and may have appealed to its owner for its nostalgic qualities. The castle was actually built from a corner, rather than in the center. It has some very unique qualities, one of which is the spiral staircase in the middle of the castle, which is actually TWO staircases that interwind around a central column. Every so often, the "peekaboo" windows in each staircase are exactly across from each other, so men and women who were interested in each other would climb the staircase at the same time and stop to "visit" before reaching the top. That gave you time to back down if you wanted to. Also, at each level, there is a mutual landing, so you could stop and visit with each other, maybe read some poetry. It made the game of "love" (or lust) last much longer. It was the pursuit, more than the conquest, that made the fun, according to the guide.

Just was we were leaving Chambord, the skies opened up and we made a mad dash for the bus. Next up, my dream chateau, Chenonceau.

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