06/1999 - France, Loire castles

6-day trip to France – Loire castles – visiting Beaugency, Chambord Castle , Bois de Boulogne , Blois , Chateau de Cheverny, Chenonceaux Castle , Tours , Castle of Villandry, Azay-le- Rideau, Castle of Ussé , Castle of Saumur, Cunault , Angers, Apocalypse Tapestry.
We hired a car at the airport and had some difficulties in crossing Paris, until we reached the entrance of the highway.

Early in the afternoon we had already reached Beaugency, a beautiful medieval village , where we stayed in a hotel that once had been an old abbey with ancient furniture and rooms that had been made out of the old abbey cells ( and ….. what cells !).

Later that afternoon we visited the castle of Chambord, surrounded by a huge park which is part of the forest of Boulogne.
Besides the beauty of the castle as a whole, we could admire the succession of finely decorated windows on the attics and the ensemble of spires, chimneys and towers.
Inside, particularly interesting are both the four huge towers and the double-helix staircase.

IThe entire town of Blois is quite interesting; it is located on a ridge and has got a magnificent castle with a big square in front of it.
In a niche, located above the portal , there is a beautiful equestrian statue of Louis XII.
In the courtyard you can admire a beautiful polygonal tower, finely carved and open on balconies, which contains a spiral staircase which brings you up to the various floors of the building.

I remember the beauty of the furniture of the Castle of Cheverny.

The Castle of Chenonceau, in a wide park, is characterized by a panoramic square with French formal gardens and is surrounded by a moat. The most spectacular part is the back part because the castle, with five wide arches, crosses the river Cher. It is interesting also the visit to its interior for the magnificent furniture, mostly of the Italian Renaissance period, as well as for the beautiful paintings of renowned painters.

Tours, capital of the Touraine region , is situated at the confluence of the river Loire with river Cher.
It is a beautiful town of Roman origin and had formerly been the residence of French kings .
The Cathedral dedicated to Saint Gatien is considered one of the most typical example of Gothic architecture.
It is very interesting the old medieval quarter and, in its centre, Plumereau Square.
The square is surrounded by attractive half-timbered houses, very well restored, which date back to 1400.

The Château de Villandry is famous for its ornamental gardens.
They are positioned in three sloping terraces with channels, beautiful fountains and rich pergolas.
The characteristic gardens are created with box hedges which are used to compose allegories of love and music.
It is curious the part of the garden that forms a real multicoloured chess-board formed by a variety of vegetables .

The Castle of Azay-le-Rideau is located on the banks of the Indre River; it is surrounded by numerous waterways on which it is reflected and stands out, elegant, in the middle of a verdant landscape .
Its beauty increases with the evocative night light which emphasizes the rich Renaissance structure of the building.

The Castle of Ussé, set on the banks of the Indre River, is positioned on high terraces and stands out with its tall chimneys, pitched roofs and many towers against the backdground of a rich forest.

Then we arrived in the beautiful town of Saumur, on the banks of the Loire, which is famous not only for the cavalry school but also for being the place where famous “champignons” mushrooms are grown.
On the overhanging hill, the Castle stands alone.
Do not miss a visit to the Romanesque church of Notre -Dame in the beautiful village of Cunault .

Angers, in addition to be famous for Cointreau liqueur, is an important and historical medieval city.
It is impressive the fortress, surrounded by 17 cylindrical towers, which you enter by a drawbridge.
Inside, in addition to the beautiful Gothic chapel of St- Genevieve, we could admire the famous Apocalypse Tapestry in a pavilion especially built to house it. The tapestry dates back to the end of 1300, is a work of the Parisian Nicolas Bataille and is 107-meter long and 5,5-meter high.