FRANCE: Loire Valley – The Grand Chateaux

Posted by on Sep 12, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The journey began at the Europcar rental office where I picked up our shiny cherry-red Citroen after negotiating a labyrinth of parking garages so I could make it back to our pile of luggage.

The rental agent made a point of telling me to put diesel in the car and even highlighted it on the form he gave me. This will come up later.

We entered the fray of Parisian traffic and fought our way out of the city and onto a reasonable highway heading for Chartres on our way to the Loire Valley.

Chartres Cathedral towers in the distance.















AirBnb – My incredibly stylish flat and home base for five days in Amboise.

My New Plant


Le Chien de Warhol

Streets of Amboise lined with shops and a clock tower on the way to the town Chateau.



                                     LE CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU














My second visit to Chenonceau. Danny insists on the occasional selfie. I’ll get out of the way now.

This place never gets old, especially on a beautiful day. Unlike Versailles, Chenonceau has most all of its original artworks and furniture including a fully stocked kitchen.

The entry fees are well utilized for the maintenance of the chateau and the meticulous tending of the gardens.



Catherine De Médicis – 1519-1589 – Catherine de Medicis possessed with a genius for intrigue and for politics lost no time in taking possession of this most coveted château. However, Chenonceau had to house the Court, so the queen undertook to add the covered bridge, designed to be used as a ballroom and the venue for sumptuous parties; the Florentine queen’s image of the Ponte Vecchio. This covered bridge was also intended to link the present lodge to a future symmetrical annex situated on the other bank of the river. Only a lack of funds prevented this from being built.

For Henri III, Catherine gave a party that became legendary and the fantastic, almost scandalous symbol of an era. We know it cost so much that the queen mother, already in dire straights, had to request contributions from Italian bankers.

Catherine and Henri gave Chenonceau its monogram, an H, crossed by two C’s that join with the H to form the first letter of Diane’s name… In the Green Room, however, Catherine de Medici’s color, we find the simple double C of the queen, whose motto on the death of her king was: He was the cause of my agony.

The Covered Bridge – Designed to be used as a ballroom and venue for lavish parties.

Wild Boar – This my new mascot for my travels. I found a stuffed toy representation in a shop in Amboise and shipped it home. About a foot long, it will serve as a hassle free, no maintenance pet. They also had a miniature boar with a clip that is now affixed to my small pack.

A Fully Outfitted Kitchen – This could all function beautifully today if the decision was made to do so. You will soon find out why all of Chenonceau’s marvelous appointments still remain while so much elsewhere was swept away by the French Revolution.


Gleaming Copper


In addition to the beautifully preserved furnishings, there are plants, fresh flowers and adornments to enhance this phenomenal property.

Massive Butcher Block – Original Cleavers


Multi-Level, River-Powered Rotisserie

King Louis XIV



Madame Louise Dupin – 1706-1799 – A delightful soul of the Enlightenment and celebrated resident of Chenonceau. Her qualities of natural joyfulness, her vivacious spirit and her great beauty painted here by Nattier, made Louise Dupin a brilliant hostess lauded by the era’s intellectual elite.

Not just a pretty face, Madame Dupin recruited Rousseau as her colleague to achieve the major project to which she had set her heart: to produce an encyclopedia of the second sex that would demonstrate once and for all the natural equality between men and women. Considerable research was needed since she planned to use all possible sources: from medicine to history, from politics to anthropology, from law to religion, from geography to pedagogy. She spent time in the King’s Library, borrowing very rare books, to produce the 47 chapters that would form her work. They doubtlessly spent long hours alone together, here in Chenonceau and in Paris discussing the subject that enthralled her, seeking the most convincing arguments to prove that the inequality between the sexes was solely due to male oppression.

The revolutionary period gave her the chance to reveal her courage, her intelligence and her strength of mind. She then proved that Chenonceau had never been a royal domain, allowed the revolutionaries to burn all the symbols of royalty and saved Chenonceau, the only bridge over the Cher… If not for Madame Dupin Chenonceau would have been gutted like Versaille which has none of its original furniture and accessories. She was truly a person who was ahead of her time, and one that is sorely neglected in the annals of women’s rights.

The “Treatise on Friendship” which she wrote at the age of twenty, contains the phrase which characterized her throughout her life: <<L’esprit délibère et le coeur conclut>> (The spirt ponders and the heart concludes).










After exiting through yet another gift shop, one can’t help but think: visit Versailles but don’t miss Chenonceau!



                           TOWN OF MONTRICHARD


Just another hilltop fortress.




                                CHÂTEAU DE CHAUMONT

These exhibitions were in the buildings on the way to the chateau. More art would emerge in various locations throughout the chateau and the grounds.




A massive and compelling piece of wooden art.

Sara FAVRIAU – Ou, Prologue Pour Une Chimére – 2017

A symbol in the concrete leads the way to the next château.

Gardens are ubiquitous throughout the Loire.



Some of the trees begin to turn.

Chaumont Awaits








Small art installation blends in with its surroundings.


STRONGBOX – This is one seriously intricate mechanism.







Gerda STEINER & Jörg LENZLINGER – Les Pierres et le Printemps


This entire chapel was turned into an art space.

Jannis KOUNELLIS – The attic also housed artworks as well.





On the grounds there are more gardens leading us to further aesthetics.















Amboise and the chateaux at twilight.

A quiet street leads back to our flat.



                               CHÂTEAU DE BLOIS

















Gargoyles collect rainwater at the edge of roofs and project it far form the walls. They were used in ancient Greece, but it was in the last centuries of the Middle Ages that they became true works of art.








A rare example of a tapestry woven in Paris or Fontainebleau.












PIANOFORTE – Jean-Henri PAPE – 1834



Marie-Phillipe COUPIN DE LA COUPERIE – Valentin of Milan at the Tomb of her Husband – 1822






                                  CHÂTEAU DE CHAMBORD














Yaacov AGAM – Double Metamorphosis III – 1968-1969

Alberto GIACOMETTI – Large Head – 1958

Jean-Pierre RAYNAUD – PVC WALL No. 1350 – 1969
















                                              CHÂTEAU DE CHEVERNY




WHY THE RAT? – I guess every chateau’s got them. Summon the lego cat.














Cream of Zucchini Soup with Smoked Salmon

Fresh Water Mullet – From the Loire River.





                           CHÂTEAU DE VILLANDRY








Young Girl with Bonnet – 19th. Century






Henri Carvallo – Current owner of Villandry.



































                       CHÂTEAU D’AZAY-LE-RIDEAU


Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, gem of the Renaissance, is built on an island formed by the Indre river in the heart of a vast romantic park.






























                                                     CHÂTEAU D’USSÉ






The prince put a knee on the ground, kissed her, and then Aurore awoke.




























                                         CLOS LUCÉ

Leonardo da Vinci – Artist to the Kings of France

The Kings of France discovered Leonardo Da Vinci’s talents during the Italian wars. Through drawings, studies and major works, the exhibition reveals two great periods of this fascinating relationship: The Milan period (1507-1513), exploring the links between Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles VIII, Louis XII and Charles D’Amboise, and the French period at Clos de Lucé (1516-1519), the grand finale of the relationship between Leonardo Da Vinci and France in the reign of Francis I.

Invited by Francis I to live at Clos Lucé in 1516, Leonardo designed grand projects: the palace and the ideal town of Romorantin, the draining of the Sologne marshes, the surprising staircase with double turns at Chambord, among others – many surprisingly modern challenges.

During these three years, he worked on all things that passionately interested him: painting, architecture, the sciences, and also botany. He took an interest in everything; he made experiments, painted, and analyzed things with mathematical precision, based on the scientific observation of nature.

Francis I was fascinated by Leonardo Da Vinci, who was famous throughout Europe for his extraordinary knowledge and genius. The king became his patron and pointed him his “first painter, engineer, and architect”. And so Leonard was given accommodation at the Clos Lucé, a financial allowance and a number of people to help him.

Francis I welcomed him with these words: “You will be free here Leonardo to dream, think and work”. Wise king.






Leonardo’s Bed Chamber

Leonardo’s Study





Fleur de Lis

Dining Area



There is a copy of the Mona Lisa here at Clos Luce which I don’t include in my photos. If you wish to see the original at the Louvre in Paris I recommend visiting during the offseason on a slow day. That way you won’t have to deal with the Mongol hordes and dueling selfie sticks. You can see it here in this amusing 3D simulation of Leonardo.

Military Armored Tank – To be driven by human or animal power, an armored engine on four wheels with guns all around. Inside a shelter for the shooters. Above, an observation turret.

Multiple Directions Machine-Guns – It insures all-directional fire over a large lie of land. Deadly against forces advancing in a line.

Triple-Tier Machine-Gun – Permitting continuous fire by simultaneous cooling and reloading. Anticipating the famous “organs of Stalin” used be the Soviets as rocket-guns during the last world war.

The forerunner of the modern Howitzer. With proper adjustment of the barrel angle, it gives very accurate fire.

Swivel Bridge – When opening it can give way to tall ships. This invention was realized in the 19th. century.

The First Car – The movement is transmitted to the back wheels by stretching alternately the spring of the right wheel and then the spring of the left wheel.

The First Parachute

The Flying Machine – A particular obsession with Leonardo Da Vinci. And we have the nerve to complain about airport security. Imagine if you had to use the conveyance of his day to get from point A to point B. I always tell myself this when in lines in airports, or ready to bitch about a flight delay.


Multiple restaurants can be found on the property as well as in the main house.

Well tended gardens and ground show respect for the previous occupant.


Life-size model of the Multiple Direction Machine-Gun.

Large Model of the Armored Tank

Large Model of the Swivel Bridge



Auberge le Prieuré – A period style restaurant where the servers are dressed in the clothing of Da Vinci’s time.

Auberge le Prieuré

So charming, but alas there was no room at the inn due to being broked by a large group of French people. I shall have to return on my next visit to the Loire Valley.






                              CHÂTEAU D’AMBOISE










Burial Place of Leonardo Da Vinci



Statue of Leonardo Da Vinci





























  1. BigD
    October 1, 2017

    I don’t necessarily recommend selfies, particularly the ones taken at arms length.
    The self portrait you’ve shared is both informal yet dignified and in my opinion serves to ground the whole series by making it personal. A lot of great photos here, I hope you’ll add a bit of commentary to go along with them 🙂

  2. The Travel Zealot
    October 1, 2017

    Hey D,
    How about selfies taken at stick length? I’m so far behind on the blog. I will be adding commentary to the whole French Adventure. I’m in Andorra and Barcelona for the next week so hopefully I’ll get caught up a little. Check back for coming progress.

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