Les Chateaux de la Loire

Alright, so I’m catching up. The Loire chateaux were the last excursion we went on. Saturday is the last excursion of the month. We go to Le golfe du Morbihan. But for now, you’ll have to listen (well, I guess read) to me talk about the chateaux. But it shouldn’t be that boring. These things were massive. And pretty.

Okay, so a little background first. The Loire Valley is about 170 miles (about 380 square miles) and is located in western France below Bretagne. Angers (where I’m studying this semester) is included in that area. Angers falls under the Pays de la Loire department (France is divided up into 26 different regions and then those regions are divided up into departments. It breaks down a little further but that’s all you really need to know. Learned that in my Civilisations class.). Now, the chateaux. By the way, chateaux with an -x is masculine plural in french. Chateau without the -x is singular. I promise I’m not misspelling it. Now, the chateaux. There’s no official list of the chateaux in the Loire Valley but generally the criteria for such a chateau is that it is in the Loire area (kind of obvious) and that it is located on either the Loire river or one of its tributaries like the Maine or the Cher. This map shows 58 chateaux that meet that criteria. I know it’s a bit small but trust me, there’s 58.

We only went to three of the chateaux though we drove by others on the way. Saumur and Chinon are two big ones that we drove by. The three that we actually stopped at were Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, and Chambord. In that order. The first chateau, Azay-le-Rideau, was about a two hour drive from Angers if memory serves. I think they figured that they’d take us to see ones that are farther away that we might not get to on our own as opposed to some of the ones closer to us that we could catch a train to if we wanted to visit them. Which is fine with me.

So, Chateau Azay-le-Rideau. So fricking picture-esque. I loved it. I’ll tell you right now, this was my favorite of the three by far. It’s also the smallest chateau that we visited but the grounds around the chateau were absolutely GORGEOUS.

Our first view of Chateau Azay-le-Rideau
Chateau Azay-le-Rideau from the back. The grounds were so pretty
This was the view from one of the bridges on the far side of the chateau. This may be my favorite picture of the ones I took.

See what I mean about the grounds being absolutely amazing?

The second chateau stop of the day was Chateau Chenonceau. It was considerably bigger than Azay-le-Rideau though Chambord definitely takes the cake for the being the biggest. Chenonceau was built over a river so the river flows underneath the building. There was a group of canoe-ers while we were there and we saw them on the one side of the chateau and then later we saw them continuing on their way on the other side. They canoed underneath the chateau! How cool is that? Just go home and your friend asks you what you did over the weekend and you reply with, “Oh, nothing much, just canoed underneath a huge castle.”

This chateau had pretty gardens on either side of it and then the river around and behind it. Oh, and it had a rapunzel-like tower. I mean, all of the chateau’s had towers but this one looked like a rapunzel tower. It just needed some more vines. The kitchen at this place was huge too. I swear it took up all of the basement area. And there were a few animal heads monted on the wall just chilling. A deer head and two boar heads. The first one you see is above the big fireplace at the base of the steps. It’s just this big wild boar head just hanging on the wall with kind of crazy looking eyes. And copper. Goodness, so much copper and it was so shiny! Gleaming would be the word used to describe it. What else. Oh yeah, they’re kind of obsessed with velvet and extravagance at Chenonceau. I know, what else did you expect right? It’s a castle. Maybe it was just me but it seemed a bit much at times. I mean every bed you saw was covered in heavy velvet or patterned prints and huge tapestries hung on the walls. But a cool thing about it is that there were baskets of fresh flowers everywhere. In the halls and in a lot of the rooms. Not only pretty but it also smelled so nice.

Chateau Chenonceau. It’s bigger than it looks from the front.
the crazy-eyed wild boar head above the kitchen fireplace
View of Chateau Chenonceau from the gardens. Beautiful isn’t it?

The last stop of the day was at Chateau Chambord. Holy frigging crap. This place was HUGE. The grounds around it were mainly flat but architecture of the building was really good. Inside there’s a double staircase and one of the corners of the courtyard is this really cool spiraling staircase that goes from the roof down to the ground. And you can walk around the roof and get a closer look at the detailing on the tops of the towers and such. So pretty. The view’s pretty cool too. The one thing I’d have to say though is that for as huge as the place is, the rooms aren’t that furnished or decorated. There’s tapestries and beds and furniture and stuff but not like a ton it seemed like. Or maybe it just seemed like that because the place is enormous. Also, right by the chateau is a little string of shops and an open market type thing. Really small but it was nice. And you can go in one of those shops and get some of the same postcards that they sell in the chateau’s shop for a lot less. Tip, in case you visit. In the shops they’re like 40 centines each and in the chateau’s shop they’re a euro each. There’s also a church on a small hill next to the chateau. That was really pretty, I liked that a lot as well.

Chateau Chambord
The spiraling staircase in the corner of the courtyard
love this picture. This is one of the ones from the roof
view of the grounds
And, lastly, this is the church next to Chambord.

Cool beans. Alright, so lots of pictures in this post. Hope ya’ll enjoy them. I gotta go shower and study for my Civilisation test tomorrow. Joy. Who knew you’d actually have to do work when going to school in another country?

❤ Rachel






40 thoughts on “Les Chateaux de la Loire

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