did an excellent job of planning our trip and she stated that we
"had" to see the Chateau at Chambord. Chambord is one of
the best examples of the excesses of the French ruling
class. Chambord was the hunting lodge of the king and was
constructed to impress the King's guests. 426 rooms, 282
fire places, towers, turrets, walls and nice grounds. And,
since the king would not want any competition when hunting, he
had a high stone wall built around the entire perimeter to keep
the game in and the peasants out. The property is the
largest fully-walled area in Europe. And, since simple
excesses were insufficient, the king also considered (but later
rejected due to cost) diversion of the entire Loire River so it
would run past his window. And finally, to put this fully
in context, this was not the main royal residence but rather a
part-time retreat. In fact, according to the chateau guide
documents, the king ruled for 32 years and only spent 72 total
DAYS at Chambord; he died before it was completed.
The photos below are what we saw.
from Chenonceau to Chambord took us on some rural roads that
went through large fields of sunflowers that were in bloom.
stopped at the side of the road for some photos and I saw this
bee hard at work.
stopped we were passed by a group of restored cars out for a
weekend run. We followed them to this small town. I
do not know the name of this chateau.
look these are old Fords, but that is not true. These are
Simcas. Nicely restored, there were about 8 in the group
with one foreign interloper, a Ford Mustang.
are some nicely restored vehicles.
car called a Veuette with suicide doors.
small village, we traveled on to Chateau Chambord, the largest
of the Renaissance chateaus. Keep in mind this was the
king's hunting lodge. The construction was started by
Francis I in 1519.
and intricate were two words that came to mind. The
chateau has 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces and 426 rooms.
fellow came riding by to entice folks to pay extra for the
equine extravaganza show.
chateau had its own chapel for its residents. But, since
the king did not want to mix with the locals, they had their own
church building separate from the chateau structure.
not even gotten inside and words were failing me.
widest setting on my camera is 24mm which his quite wide.
But even at 24mm I could not take in the entire width of the
structure as seen from the entrance portal.
pen and ink sketch of Chambord.
photography was not allowed inside the chateau and it was poorly
lit preventing photos of many interesting things. But,
this gold-gilded boar's head that was part of a frame caught my
eye. The painting was too dark to shoot, but the subject
of the 4' x 8' painting was the death of a boar at the hands of
a pack of hunting dogs.
had several double helix staircases that were designed by
Leonardo da Vinci who had come to France at the request of
double helix staircase went to the top of the turret, but
visitors could only go part of the way.
helix stairway provided access to the chateau's chapel.
king's bed chamber.
toilette with a removable pan.
fire-breathing salamander was the symbol of the crown.
There were 900+ of these symbols carved into the walls.
One of 4
wings on this floor that had the ceiling covered in alternating
tiles of salamanders and the symbol for Francis I.
of part of the grounds. The estate is 5440 hectares, the
same area as Inner Paris (about 13,500 acres). The wall is
32 km long with 6 gates. Only 800 of the 5440 hectares is
open to the public. Boar and deer still run wild on the
assembles for a photo on the upper deck.
steep roofs were covered in slate shingles.
carvings in the stone.
chapel itself was quite large with both public and private
the gargoyles here were quite well preserved.
The stained glass in the chapel was nice, but not as nice as the balance of the structure in terms of being "over the top".
were a series of 5 rain gutters each with a different carving
serving as the spouts.
the hunting trophies inside were quite stunning and represented
kills from various locations both inside and outside
Chambord. These were from Hungary and Austria.
is well crafted to separate tourists from their cash. Like
every other place of a similar ilk, you exit through the gift
shop. For a few euros, you could get a ride in the
view of Chateau Chambord from one of the gates.
Chambord, we headed out on one of the main highways to
Chartres. From the highway, I spotted some large cooling
towers that were associated with a nuclear power plant.
The containment buildings are the small pill-shaped buildings to
the left of the cooling towers. France has poor access to
hydrocarbon fuels and therefore has a large national commitment
to nuclear power. More that 70% of the power is from
nuclear and they have some of the most advanced reactors on the
planet at this time.
If you are
in the area, Chambord is a must-see. The excesses of the
crown weighed heavily on the common folk and as the scope of the
waste became apparent to the masses, it set the stage for the
French Revolution which eventually ended the monarchy.
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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2013,
all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.