|Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley|
The Loire Valley in France is known as 'the garden of France' and 'the country of a thousand castles'. On a seven day visit I wondered through a glorious land of vineyards and flowers and explored at least eight of its 1,000 castles. Of those, I found the Chateau de Chambord to be the most spectacular.
A mere two hour train ride from Paris, the chateau is situated in the centre of a 54 square kilometre forest. Enclosed within a 32 kilometre-long wall erected in the 16th century, the forest was once the hunting preserve of Francois 1. Still a wildlife refuge, its hunting rights are one of the perks of the presiding French President.
For 25 years 1800 skilled artisans laboured on the building of the young French king's hunting lodge. This massive structure, France's second largest castle after Versailles, is crowned with a roof likened to the skyline of an Oriental city. Its upper terrace comprises an astounding array of lanterns, chimneys, cupolas, minarets and towers. During Francois' reign it was customary for ladies of the Court to gather on the terrace to watch the return of the hunt and for the King and his courtiers to enjoy spectacular events, many of them devised by Leonardo da Vinci.
|The mysterious centre of Leonardo's double-helix staircase|
Photo copyright Anne Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Thursday, 26th January 2012