Château de Chenonceau

The Loire Valley, France. May-June 2018. (12 photos)

This is Part 4 of my France 2018 photo series, and also Part 6 of my Europe 2018 photo series.

Château de Chenonceau is a French château spanning the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Loire Valley in France. It is one of the best-known châteaux of the Loire valley. The estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century. In 1535 the château was seized by King Francis I of France for unpaid debts to the Crown. After Francis’ death in 1547, Henry II offered the château as a gift to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, perhaps the best known occupant in the history of the château.

The chapel of Château de Chenonceau

Vallée de la Loire, or The Loire Valley.

I spent 2 weeks in Paris, but punctuated my time in Paris with a few days staying in The Loire Valley. Train travel in France is very easy when there are no strikes happening. As you may or may not know, the French SNCF employees embarked on a series of rolling strikes (3 days on then 2 days off) from April to July this year. At least I knew which days were train strike days and I could plan my travel around them.

The Loire Valley, Vallée de la Loire, is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France. The area of the Loire Valley comprises about 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetable fields, which line the banks of the river. It is notable for its wines, historic towns, architecture, and particularly its châteaux. In 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites.

“Medieval Tours”

For my visit to the Loire Valley and its châteaux, I based myself in Tours. Tours is a university town between the Cher and Loire rivers. It was part of the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD when the city was named “Caesarodunum” (“Hill of Caesar”).

“Château de Villesavin”

Château de Villesavin is a 16th-century château and is a designated historical monument of France. It is a private château owned by the Count and Countess de Sparre. As part of my prearranged visit, I was fortunate to enjoy a very lovely lunch prepared by the Countess. There, I first tasted the regional specialty, strawberries-in-season. I have never tasted strawberries like those before. They’re reason enough to go back.

The chapel of Château de Villesavin

Château de Chambord

The Château de Chambord is one of the most recognisable châteaux in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France. The château was built to act as a hunting lodge for King Francis I; however, the king spent barely seven weeks there in total.

Château de Villandry

In the original 14th century keep of Château de Villandry, King Philip II of France once met King Richard I of England to discuss peace. During the French Revolution the property was confiscated and in the early 19th century, Emperor Napoleon acquired it for his brother Jérôme Bonaparte.The Château de Villandry is famous for its Renaissance gardens including a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, and vegetable gardens. The gardens are laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges.

Château de l’Islette

Built around 1295, Château de l’Islette is now a private home, which the owners open up to visitors.

This is Part 4 of my France 2018 photo series.
This is Part 6 of my Europe 2018 photo series, including Czechia (The Czech Republic), The Netherlands, France, Italy, Austria, Greece and Germany.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Vallée de la Loire


57 thoughts on “Vallée de la Loire

  1. Another stunning, but quite different look at France. The box hedges around the garden beds are so perfectly trimmed, not a leaf out of place. And how delightful to be served lunch by a Countess, lucky you.

  2. Wonderful, wonderful chateaux! And how lucky are you? Lunch prepared by the Countess! How did you swing that one? Fresh strawberries are so lovely. I remember how expensive they were to buy in Sydney – a tiny punnet was about three times what we pay. Fresh from the garden is best though. I’m not so keen on the parterres, formal gardens are lovely to look at, but oh, boy, so much maintenance! As for that monstrous hunting lodge only used for 7 weeks! Sigh… the wealthy then really did show off.

    • I remember those strawberries were plump and had an almost champagne like sensation in the mouth. I ate quite a few. The Villandry Gardens requires a team of gardeners to keep it in shape, and they are highly regarded.
      Seeing the chateau of the Louis’ really made the French Revolution come to life for me. It’s easy to understand the anger of the French people at that time in history.

  3. Astounding photos, Draco, and a complete joy to visit the Loire Valley with you. Enjoyed hearing about the present, with train strikes and lunch with the Countess, as well as the rich past. Your ability to capture the whole picture and present it with grace and beauty, is much appreciated.

    • Thank you very much, Jet. I did originally plan to spend longer in the French countryside but had to change plans because of the train strikes. There’s always next time. 🙂

  4. Magnificent set of photos of this fascinating region which is steeped in history.
    Visited it some years ago,spring time,but it was raining.I am utterly stunned by your excellent photographic work,loved the landscaped gardens and the topiaries of the maze.

  5. J.D. Riso says:

    I’m so pleased to see that you at least got to visit the Loire Valley. You visited 2 of the castles I really wanted to visit, but couldn’t(curse SNCF!)— Chenonceau and Villandry. Living in Europe, it’s easy to get castle fatigue, but the Loire castles all have such a unique personality and you captured these magnificently.

    • So you’ve been SNCF@%#’d as well. 🙂 Chenonceau is a beautiful chateau, beautifully positioned and with beautiful grounds and gardens. Villandry is mostly about the gardens. I would loved to have seen more chateaux. I believe some are even in use as bnbs.

  6. One could easily spend a day at each of these places! Why do we have to travel so fast and do things like “If it’s Monday, we must be in …”. Beautiful photos! Thank you!

  7. Lovely images and interesting bit of history there. Wonder why the king didn’t spend long there. Good to know you planned your days around the strike. Smooth sailing.

    • Thanks. Chambered was built as a hunting lodge, with large files and forests around it. It wasn’t a formal residence, just a folly.
      Fortunately I found out about the strike in time to cancel and change a few reservations.

    • Because of the strikes, I cancelled my trip to Angers and had to shorten my visit to Tours. Also I saw SNCF (and student) riots in Saint Germain de Pres. I can imagine how frustrating this prolonged action is for everyone.

  8. The Loire Valley looks like a splendid place to visit. We took the train from Amsterdam to Paris, but did not have enough time to travel any real distance from Paris.

    • You can do day trips there from Paris but they would be rushed. It’s close by high speed train from Paris, and a completely different ambience. I loved visiting all those chateaux. But it is hard to leave Paris. I loved it there.

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