Royal Chateau of Blois – 12/6/2016

The Royal Chateau of Blois is located in the Loire Valley in the city center of Blois.  The Chateau was home to 7 Kings and 10 Queens of France. The chateau has 4 wings, each illustrating the development of French architecture from the 13th to 17th century.  The Chateau comprises 564 rooms of which 100 were bedrooms and 75 staircases.

Our first day in the Loire Valley was on a Sunday, so we decided to see a chateau not far from where we were staying and picked the Royal Chateau of Blois, due to its history of resident Queens and Kings.  I wold love say that the chateau was brilliant, but sadly I think this was the most disappointing of the chateau’s we visited.  Unfortunately as an English speaking tourist, there was very little English signage and we wandered around blindly.  The rooms are sparsely decorated and perhaps the additional attractions like the Sound and Light show, which we didn’t do, would have improved the experience.  I highly recommend getting the audio guide so you are not disappointed or visit one of the many other chateaus in the area.  

THIRTEENTH CENTURY MEDIEVAL FORTRESS

In the 9th century Blois had a fortress and palace, this was later extended in 1000 by the Counts of Blois who erected a tower and other buildings.  It was continually enlarged and 1214, Thibaut VI built a large hall in the court’s palace where the court held audience and held feasts, this is one of the few still existing 13th century parts of the chateau today.  Today the hall, otherwise known as the state hall is a spacious room and has a throne which you can sit in, which two of my children readily did.

THE LOUIS XII WING (1498 – 1500)

After the Count of Blois became the King of France, Louis XII in 1498, he undertook improvements to the chateau and gardens.  The Louis XII wing, built between 1498 and 1500, combines the French Renaissance style with Gothic style.  The exterior is a red and white brick facade, with a steep slate roof and two tall towers housing staircases at each end.  This wing now houses the Museum of Fine Arts for the city of Blois.

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THE RENAISSANCE WING (1515 – 1518)

After Francois I ascended the throne, his first building project was to erect an Italian Renaissance inspired building.  One of the most notable features of the building is the open, spiral staircase on the exterior of the building. 

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One of the more elaborately decorated rooms in the Renaissance wing was the King’s chamber.  Used by Henri III where he would hold discussions with his close advisers.  Some believe that he surrounded himself with mignons, men scandalously dressed with makeup aided in his unpopularity, although other historians believe the rumors of Henri’s sexuality were started by his political opponents.  Although Henri III contributed little to the design of the chateau he did leave a historical mark when its believed he ordered the assassination of Duke of Guise in the King’s chamber.

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Also in the Francois I wing are the Catherine de Medici’s queen’s chambers, where she actually died.  Within the queens chambers is a small oratory, with 19th century stained glass. 

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THE GASTON OF ORLEANS CLASSICAL WING (1635-1638)

Gaston d’Orleans, brother of Louis XIII decided in 1634 to build a totally new chateau at Blois, however the birth of Louis XIV, next in line to the throne meant that Gaston lost his funding for his chateau.  Gaston’s chateau was never completed, but was built in a classical style somewhat similar to Versailles.  This wing now houses a history room and temporary exhibits.

Sound and Light Show

We did not go to the sound and light show at the chateau, so I don’t know what it was like.  It is run from April to September, the exact dates can be found on the website. The show lasts 45 minutes with the ticket office opening 30 minutes prior.  The show uses giant projects on the chateau and sound effects to bring the history of France to life.  The show covers the love, drama and secrets of the French kings and queens who lived there.   The audio-guides are available in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Chinese and Japanese.

House of Magic

We did not visit the House of Magic, so I am unable to give an opinion of what it is like.  It is located in a house in front of the Royal Chateau and covers not only the history of magic, but also the life and work of Eugène Robert-Houdin who was from Blois.  The building houses a range of hands on activities on animations, visual and optical games and different illusions, as well as a show which varies through the year. 

The Foundation of Doubt

The foundation of Doubt is the result of 30 years of work by French artist, Ben Vautier and was opened in 2013 and is the only foundation dedicated to the movement of Fluxus. The Fluxus movement began in New York in the 1960s and 1970s, after artists, disgruntled with museums deciding the value of art and the need to be educated to view and understand art.  Fluxus involved developing new art forms and often combines music, art and media.  There are both temporary and permanent exhibits and the art work also encompasses the Cafe.  So if your into modern art, humor and the absurd, then the foundation just might be for you.  

 

Tourist Information for the Royal Chateau of Blois

Opening Hours for Chateau:

  • Closed 25th December and 1st of January
  • 2nd January – 31st March – 10 am – 5 pm
  • 1st April – 30th June – 9 am – 6.30 pm
  • 1st July – 31st August – 9 am – 7 pm
  • 1st September – 5th November – 9 am – 6.30 pm
  • 6th November – 31st December – 10 am – 5 pm

Opening Hours for Sound and Light Show 

  • April, May, September: 10 pm
  • June, July, August: 10:30 pm
  • Ticket office opens 30 minutes prior to show.
  • Show lasts 45 minutes.

Opening Hours for The House of Magic:

  • 31st March – 31st August – 10 am – 12.30 pm/2 pm – 6.30 pm
  • 1st September – 16th September – Monday to Friday: 2pm – 6.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday – 10 am – 12.30 pm/2 pm – 6.30 pm
  • 20th October – 4th November – everyday – 10 am – 12.30 pm/2.30 pm – 6.30 pm

Opening Hours for Foundation of Doubt:

2017 Schedule Permanent Collection Café Le Fluxus Exhibition Pavilion
3rd February – 2nd April Friday to Sunday

2pm – 6.30 pm

Wednesday to Sunday 12 pm – 7 pm Wednesday to Sunday 2 pm – 6.30 pm
5th April – 2nd of July Wednesday to Sunday  2 pm – 6.30 pm Wednesday to Sunday 12 pm – 7 pm Wednesday to Sunday

2pm – 6.30 pm

4th July to 3rd September Tuesday to Sunday 2pm – 6.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday 12 pm – 7 pm Tuesday to Sunday 2pm – 6.30 pm
6th September – 5th of November Wednesday to Sunday 2pm to 6.30 pm Wednesday to Sunday 12 pm – 7 pm Wednesday to Sunday

2pm – 6.30 pm

10th November – 23rd December Friday to Sunday

2pm – 6.30 pm

Wednesday to Sunday 12 pm – 7 pm Wednesday to Sunday 2 pm – 6.30 pm

Costs

Chateau Tickets:

2018 Chateau & Leaflet Guided Tour – Family Tour Behind the Doors Tour Audio Guide
Child under 6 Free Free Free  
Child 6 to 17 €5 Free €2 €4
Adult €12 €3 

+ Admission price

€5

+ Admission Price

€4

+Admission Price

*Reduced

 

€9.50 €3

+ Admission price

€5

+ Admission Price

€4

+Admission Price

*Granted to students, teachers, adults with large families and job seekers (proof required)

Sound and Light Show (2017 prices)

  • Adult – €8.50, reduced rate – €7, Child (6-17 years) – €5, Under 6 years – free
  • Audioguide: free of charge
  • Disposable headsets – €2

House of Magic (2018 prices) – includes exhibition and permanent show

  • Adults – €10
  • Reduced Price – €8
  • Children aged 6 – 17 – €6.50
  • Under 6 – free
  • Group visit (20 people or more) – Adults – €8, Children aged 6 – 17 – €5

Foundation of Doubt (2017 prices) 

  • Adult – €7.50
  • Reduced Price – €6.50
  • Children aged 6 – 17 – €3.50
  • Under 6 – free
  • For combined tickets see the table below

Combined Tickets:

Combined Tickets – 2017 Adult *Reduced 6 – 17 Under 6
Chateau + Sound and Light Show €16  €12  €7 Free
Chateau + House of Magic €16  €12  €7 Free
Chateau + Visit of the City €13.50  €11.50  €6 Free
Chateau + Foundation of Doubt €14  €11  €6 Free
Chateau + Sound and Light Show + House of Magic €22 €17 €12 Free
Chateau + House of Magic + Foundation of Doubt €20 €15 €10 Free

*Reduced rate granted on individual basis to students, teachers, adults with large families and job seekers (proof required)

Official Websites

Chateau: http://en.chateaudeblois.fr/

The Magic Housewww.maisondelamagie.fr

Foundation of Doubt: http://www.fondationdudoute.fr/

Written by Karen

Updated January 2018

 

 

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