From Chartres, we drove to visit the Chateau de Chambord. It was quite rainy, but the countryside was still beautiful. I tried to get a picture of it while driving but it’s kind of tricky.
The most exciting thing, though, was that I spotted three wild boars running in the forest as we got closer to the chateau.
Ok, so that is really just a photoshopped re-creation of the wild boars, but I couldn’t really get a picture of them while driving, could I? For one thing, they are really fast! For another… driving. But I couldn’t believe my luck seeing three of them. I kept looking for more, but never saw them again. Except on the walls at the chateaux.
We parked at the village and walked up to the chateau. I loved the mossy roof. I’m a little obsessed with moss since I live in the desert.
Of course, there are loads of amazing chateaux in the Loire Valley. I would have loved to visit more of them, but our short time frame only allowed us two or, with very good luck, three. It was pretty easy to decide which ones, though. Chambord just looks so amazing. I mean…
Wow! Those chimneys! Those towers! The sculptural details! I love it. And I love the little chapel next to it.
You enter the chateau through an inner courtyard where you can get a sense of the scale of the place. It’s enormous!
The chateau has 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases (as per Wikipedia). And they aren’t just little rooms. I’ll let Cristen show off the scale. I don’t know for sure how tall Cristen is, but she’s taller than me, so I’m going to guess 5’6 or 5’7. And she fits inside the fireplace!
The chateau was originally used as a hunting lodge, and doesn’t it just seem nice and cozy? Can’t you just picture gathering around one of those huge fireplaces after hunting wild boar in the forest? If you need some help, maybe these hunting trophies will do the trick.
One of the most interesting things about the chateau is the double-helix staircase in its center. It’s designed so that two people can walk down it at the same time without ever seeing each other. Some people believe it was designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
It has a funnel, for lack of a better word, in the middle of it that the stairs wrap around. It’s open all the way up, so it lets in quite a lot of light. Here’s a photo looking from the bottom floor all the way up to the sun.
Some rooms are still decorated. There’s an audio tour you can take, but since I’m anti-audio tours, I didn’t do it. I think I may need to reconsider my stance on audio tours because I feel like I missed out on important information. I had to imagine the history based on the artifacts I found. For instance, I’m assuming these thrones were once used by a king.
Well, I won’t share with you my fake information, but I will share with you photos of some of the rooms. You can make up your own history for them. (Or maybe read about it on that Wikipedia page.)
And here’s what I looked like most of the time with my cameras at the ready.
Some more extravagant rooms…
And a not-so-grand room.
I also loved the windows with their beautiful design.
Seemed like a perfect backdrop for some photos.
The third floor had an amazing coffered ceiling.
With a positively amazing view of one of those 84 staircases.
BUT… the best is even yet to come because you can go up to the roof and get a close up look at all of those cupolas and lanterns and chimneys. And moss.
I loved it. Absolutely. Even the rain made it more romantic (in the Romanticism sense of the word). I wouldn’t have minded staying there all night (I did have an umbrella), but we had reservations at our own little chateau about an hour away near Montrichard.
There were so many lovely scenes on our way to our chateau, and I learned my lesson from trying to take photos while driving. This time, I rolled down the driver’s side window and snapped a few shots. That way I didn’t get the glare or the windshield wipers.
We checked into our chateau and put our stuff in the room. It was totally charming.
And then went off to find dinner in nearby Montrichard.
There were four or so restaurants all wrapped around a little square in the town. We looked at menus for all of them until we came to a little pizza place. It was run by two older women who were probably in their late-50s. They didn’t speak any English. I took some French in high school and college, but I felt so nervous and frustrated whenever I would try to speak it. I didn’t think my accent was that bad or that anything I was saying was that wrong, but every time I tried to speak French, no one could understand it. Eventually I gave up and only spoke English and pointed at things. Thank goodness for menus. But I was able to actually communicate a little with these women and that was gratifying. Even though my Strasbourgeoise pizza was not quite what I was expecting, I think that ended up being one of the most delightful meals on the trip just because the atmosphere there was warm and inviting. There were a few families there eating and one papa had a little too much to drink and had to step outside (with the help of some daughters), but it was all done with such good humor.