Given that the name of my blog is partly French, I guess it’s about time that I do a little blogging about France, right? There’s quite a lot of beauty around Europe, but I feel (and I’m probably a bit biased on this), that no one does springtime quite like France. I think it’s because of the French’s love of nature and flowers.
One place where this is apparent is in the Loire Valley. The Loire Valley used to be the playground of the rich, famous and powerful – now, it’s the playground of tourists who want to walk in the former inhabitants’ footsteps. There are more than 300 châteaux in the Loire Valley, which 42 of those making up the UNESCO World Heritage Site. So which châteaux does one visit? It was a tough decision, but we decided to do the two that I’m going to blog about today: Château du Clos Lucé and Château Cheverny.
Château du Clos Lucé and Parc Leonardo da Vinci
The Château du Clos Lucé was built in 1471 and was a royal residence and summer residence for the Kings of France for 200 years. However, this beautiful pink brick building is more famous for being the last residence of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci was invited to France by King François I and was given this place as a residence in 1516. Leonardo da Vinci lived here happily for the last three years of his life, painting and working as an engineer, an architect and a producer. By visiting this château, we were able to walk in the final steps of the famous inventor/painter, at the same time enjoying the peaceful environment.
The château itself was interesting, but the surrounding Parc Leonardo da Vinci was even more fascinating. da Vinci was inspired by nature and we could see his creations and main inventions interspersed throughout the park that inspired him.
The Château Cheverny may not have the history as Château du Clos Lucé, but it has the distinction of being in the same family for more than 6 centuries and it is still occupied by members of that family today. A primitive fortress was built in 1500, but main construction of the château that can be seen today started back in 1624. Another reason for the fame of this château was that it inspired Hergé, the author of Tintin, when he created Marlingspike Hall, the most famous castle in the history of comic books.
We were fortunate to catch the château in early spring, with the trees flowering and the tulips out in full effect.
This is just a taste of the beauty of the Loire Valley. More to come…
Until next time