Before I get into the main topic of this post, I’d like to say that I cannot believe that I have a week left in France. The Soiree International was last night so I know it’s real. It feel so surreal though. The Soiree was good. A lot of people performed and it was a good time. There was a lot of dancing and singing. Two acts in particular that stood out was a girl who performed a ceremonial dance with a Samuri sword and the group of Canadians who led the auditorium in a sing-along. The reason the girl stood out is because I kept wondering how in the world she got that thing through security and customs. Unless France is really just that lax on stuff? The Canadians were hilarious. Anyone want to take a guess as to what song they did? I’m not sure I’d necessarily classify it as Canadian perse but it’s one everyone learns at camp growing up. Remember the moose song about Fred the moose who liked to eat in bed? Haha, yep. It was so funny watching/listening as pretty luch the entire auditorium joined in either singing or following the hand gestures (though I could be biased as the Oregon group was sitting across the aisle from me and were auite loud). Nevertheless, a good time was had by all I believe.
Also, I’d like to put a disclaimer out there just in case. Something I’ve noticed over the course of the semester is that my spelling in english has kind of gone down the toilet. Not that I was perfect before but I’m usually a pretty decent speller and have good instincts when I’m sure but as I’ve become better at spelling and conjugating things in French, my spelling in English has erroded. So, basically what this means is if you see any minor spelling errors, I apologize and if you see any after this, this is me warning you. I don’t think it’s been too bad on here yet because I feel like I would’ve received an email from my mom.
Now onto the fun stuff. Alright, this second tour of chateaux was the last CIDEF excursion. This trip we saw four new chateaux: Chateau Amboise, Chateau du Clos Luce, Chateau Blois, and Chateau Cheverny. It was really foggy that morning. All of my pictures from the first chateau (Amboise) look as if they were taken super early when in fact it was around 11am. But it looked pretty cool I thought. I was a bit surprised though because both Chateau Ambose and Chateau du Clos Luce are kind of in the middle of the town whereas most chateaux are not. Course I suppose that depends on the size of the chateau too. This chateau was decorated for Christmas which, for some reason, none of us were expecting. I’m not quite sure why because it would make sense but then again, it doesn’t really feel too much like Christmas here. To me, at least. That’s slowly changing though, as the time to go home approaches (4 days!). So….you guys have all heard of a man by the name of Leonardo da Vinci, right? Not di Caprio, da Vinci. You know…the one that invented tons of stuff? Well, not to brag or anything but…..we got to see NOT ONLY where he’s buried but also got to visit his house. No big deal or anything….he’s just one of the most well-known inventors of all time. We didn’t freak out or anything… No, but seriously, we got to see his house and where he’s buried. He’s not French so I’m not quite sure why he’s buried in the chapel at Chateau Amboise but hey, what do I know? I’m just a student. Which I suppose is the point of being a student, to actually learn something. Rest assured, I’ve learned lots on this trip.
Moving on to Chateau du Clos Luce a.k.a the former residence of Leonardo da Vinci. The reason why he had a place in France was because he worked for and became good friends with Francois 1er. It was Francois who gave him Chateau du Clos Luce as a place to stay. It’s also where he spent his last few years so maybe that’s why he’s buried at Chateau Amboise. The two chateaux are in the same town (Amboise) and are only about a 20 minute walk from each other. Attached to the property is what is referred to as Parc Leonardo da Vinci. Basically it’s the grounds next to the house where life-size interactive models of some of da Vinci’s inventions are spaced out. There’s also a smaller museum at the back of the property where you can see a replica of The Last Supper. Walking around the parc was pretty cool. We also found a children’s playground which provided us with more entertainment than it probably should have. Oh well, what can we say? We can be kids at heart.
Next stop of the day was Chateau Blois. This chateau was even more in the middle of town than either Chateau Amboise or Chateau du Clos Luce. It looked pretty impressive from the road but it was about as big as Chateau Amboise in terms of how much you could actually visit. Chateau Blois I think is the first chateau that I’ve seen that has next to no foliage of any kind. There was one tree in the courtyard and maybe some grass outside the entrance though I think it was gravel if memory serves. It was little weird having gotten used to seeing these big grand manors either surrounded by nature or at least have a nice green courtyard. But I guess Francois 1er and/or Henri III had other visions of the place. Yep, the same Francois 1er. He was a King you know, so he had multiple “houses” throughout his lifetime. Actually, his wife had thought they could move to Blois from Amboise after he took power but I don’t think they ever actually spent much time there. After Francois 1er, it was occupied for a while by Henri III and then Henri V after that. At Chateau Blois is a double spiral staircase, like the one at Chateau Chambord. Also at Chateau Blois is a chapel dedicated to Joan of Arc. Apparently she was blessed there before leading her army into battle. There’s a painting of her kneeling in front of the Archbishop in the chapel above the doorway. Something a bit unique to Blois I think is the porcupine symbol you’ll see carved into the walls every so often. Apparently that was the symbol of one of the kings (Henri III perhaps?) but I don’t remember exactly which one.
And lastly, we have the Chateau Cheverny. I didn’t know this but apparently this particular chateau is known for its dogs. Unfortunately, the dogs weren’t there when we visited. I think that Cheverny had the biggest grounds of the four chateaux. That or Clos Luce because of the Parc that was attached to it. But I did really like the grounds at Cheverny. They weren’t too woodsy like Azay-le-Rideau on the first chateau excursion but were instead more open. There was a big tree a little ways down the path from the actual chateau and it was decked out with lights and ornaments for Christmas. Behind the chateau was a little fountain and pathway leading to another building but it was closed so we didn’t really get a chance to explore. Fun fact about Cheverny that I didn’t realize. You guys have heard of Tintin? A new Tintin movie just came out last year I think. Apparently, the author based the chateau in his books off of Cheverny. Kind of cool, right?
Alright, I think that’s all I got for the chateaux. I’m going to try to get one more post out before I fly back home but the last few “adventures”, i.e. my last two weekends in Angers are going to have to wait until after I get home. So, there’ll still be a few France uploads after I hit the US again.