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

 

 

Chambord Chateau – 13/6/2016

Easy to read information

http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-chateau-de-chambord/

you can use others if you want

Clockwise: Hunting room, Tapestry of the Battle of Actium from Caesar and Cleopatra, 1680, Francois I main bedroom

Chateau Chambord Rooftop

Tourist Information for Chateau Chambord:

Opening Hours

  • Closed 1st January, 26th November and 25th December
  • 2nd of January – 31st of March – 9 am – 5 pm
  • 1st of April – 31st of October – 9 am – 6 pm
  • 1st November – 31st of December – 9 am – 5 pm
  • Last entry is 1/2 prior to chateau closing
  • French formal gardens close 1/2 before chateau closing

 

Cost

Chateau and French Gardens:

  • Adults – €13
  • Reduced rate – €11
  • Groups of 20 or more – €11
  • Under 18 years old – free
  • 18 – 25 EU residents – free

Histopad – A 3D tour of eight rooms as they were in Francois I time as well as interactive maps, visitors guide and treasure hunt for kids.

  • one tablet – €6.50
  • Family pack of 3 tablets – €17

Parking:

  • PO car parking (200 metres from chateau) – €6
  • P1 Parking – Minibus – €11, coaches – €50
  • Groups with at least 7 tickets for chateau parking is free
  • P2 parking (further away) car park – €4, 24 hour parking for car, caravan and motorhome – €11
  • Bicycles – free

Official Website: https://www.chambord.org/en/

 

Chaumont Chateau – 14/6/2016

Chaumont Chateau is situated above the village of Chaumont-sur-Loire, between the towns of Blois (17 km) and  Amboise (20 km), overlooking the Loire river.  Chaumont Chateau is now a museum which hosts an annual International Garden Festival.  

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Brief History

In 1000 AD, the Count of nearby Blois built the fortress overlooking the river, to keep vigil over the border between the counties of Blois and Anjou and to protect Blois from invaders. In 1054, the chateau became the possession of Sulpice I d’Amboise and remained in the family for the next 500 years.  In 1555, Louis XI ordered the chateau to be burned down as punishment for a rebellion against the king by Pierre Amboise.  Pierre’s son rebuilt the chateau by 1510 and some 50 years later Catherine de Medici, following her husband’s, King Henry II’s death, purchased the chateau.  Ironically, de Medici exchanged the chateau for the chateau de Chenonceau with King Henry II’s mistress ,Diane de Poitiers.  The castle changed hands many times and was eventually purchased in 1750 by French aristocrat, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray as a vacation home, only to be lost in 1790 after the newly formed Revolution Government in Paris took charge.  The chateau changed hands a couple more times before the French government took ownership and it became a UNESCO world heritage site.

Chateau

We randomly picked Chateau de Chaumont to visit, after looking at brochures and deciding on visiting one we had not seen before.  There is a steep walk up the hill to reach the chateau, but so worth it, it is reminiscent of a Disney fairy-tale castle, truly beautiful.  Although the rooms are more sparsely decorated than some chateaus it is definitely worth a look.

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The Catherine de Medici Room

This room has the oldest tapestry in the chateau, woven in Tournai in the late 15th century of Perseus and Pegasus and another tapestry created in the late 16th century in Flanders of David and Abigail.  Although the furniture looks like it may have come from de Medici’s time, the bed is actually from the 19th century and has elaborate carvings of figures, fruits and leaves.  Other furniture in the room is older, the throne is from the 16th century and the wardrobe from the 15th century.

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Other Rooms in the Chateau

Dining Room (left), Tearoom (right)

The Library filled with not only books but tapestries to.

The Chapel

I will admit, that although I was drawn to the chapel’s whimsical, fairyland look at the time we visited, I had not idea what the story was behind it, just that it looked cool.  Turns out its the work of Swiss artists, Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger, who used tangled dried branches, plants, dried flowers and grasses collected in the gardens of the chateau, along with objects like CDs for their creation of a dreamland.  It was created for the 2015 season, but was still there when we visited in 2016, so maybe a permanent exhibit?  This is not the first art piece done by the Swiss artists at the Chateau, previously, (though no longer there) they had created coloured crystals spilling from the dining table.  The chapel is quite magical.

International Garden Festival

The International Garden Festival is an annual event between April and early November,  (check the website for exact dates) which showcases talent from around the world, who exhibit their garden ideas on a given theme.  In 2016, the theme was “Gardens for the coming century”.  Artists showcased how gardens may look having to overcome things like rising sea levels and climate change.  Some of the gardens were really interesting, Tristan and I enjoyed looking around them.  There were 24 garden exhibits, below is an overview of just three of those.

Frankenstein’s Garden was created by British landscape artists,Anca PANAIT and Greg MEIKLE.  The concept is that science can have unpredictable reactions and in this case nature is taking over with hybrid plants, but beauty can come from this chaos.

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QUE VIENNE LA PLUIE… by French team, Frédérique LARINIER, landscaper/agricultural engineer, Gaël BARDON, landscape-gardener and Emmanuel PUYBONNIEUX, basket weaver.  With the idea that temperatures will rise 1 – 6 degrees in the next century causing sea levels to rise, this will result in humans evolving to live in new ways in their environment.  This is their idea of how it may evolve.

NÉO-NOÉ – created by French team; Thierry DUPEUX and Julien GUÉNÉGUÈS, DPLG: architects Alexandre MARTINET, landscaper, Anaïs MOUREAU, designer, and Christian PIEL, urban planner and hydrologist.  This entry was inspired by muscle farms, the plant covered supports are filters to remove pollution from the water as well as feeding the plants.  The idea of adapting to rising sea levels but leaving a positive footprint by removing pollution.

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While some of us looked around the exhibits, others happily sat chatting. 

The Park

Surrounding the chateau are some formal gardens and parkland with mature trees.  A nice, relaxing walk.

The Stables

An oversight on our part, but we missed the stables completely, Oh well.  The stables were built in 1877 and at the time were some of the most luxurious in Europe.  You can take a look at the saddlery and the horse drawn carriages.

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If you use drive across the bridge from the chateau and turn left you will get a wonderful view looking back at the chateau.

Tourist Information for Chaumont Chateau

Opening Hours

  • Closed 1st January, 25th of December
  • 2nd January – 1st January – 10 am – 5.30 pm
  • 1st February – 31st March – 10 am – 6 pm
  • 1st April – 23rd April – 10 am – 7 pm
  • 24th April – 31st August – 10 am – 8 pm
  • 1st September – 30th September – 10 am – 7:30 pm
  • 1st October – 27th October – 10 am – 7 pm
  • 28th October – 18th November – 10 am – 6 pm
  • 19th November – 31st December – 10 am – 5.30 pm

Cost:

See table for cost of tickets for 2018:

2018 2nd of Jan – 31st of March 1st of April – 31st of Oct 1st of Nov – 31st of December 2 Day Pass Multimedia Castle Guide
Child under 7 Free Free Free free €4
Child 7 to 12 €4 €6 €4 €10 €4
Reduced Price €7 €12 €7 €20 €4
Adult €12 €18 €12 €30 €4
Family (2 adults + 2 child, under 12) €24 €36 €24   €4 pp

Official Website: http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/

Written by Karen

Updated January 2018

Chateau de Cheverny – 15/6/2016

Chateau de Cheverny was built between 1620 and 1640 and has been home to the Harault family for over six hundred years.  The Marquis and Marquise of Vibraye are the current members of the family that live on the third floor of the chateau, not open to the public.  The chateau first opened its doors to the public in 1922.

The chateau’s exterior is built from the Bourre stone, a whitish stone which becomes lighter in colour as it ages.  The rooms open to the public are presented as they would have been in the 17th century, they are complete with tapestries from Flanders, furniture dating from the 16th and 17th century and paintings by outstanding artists of the time.  The use of everyday objects like crockery, toys and musical instruments throughout the rooms brings the 17th century to life for those who visit.

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The Armory 

The armory contains a selection of weapons; crossbows, swords and arquebuses from the 15th – 17th century as well as armor, including a child’s set belonging to a four year old count.  The room also contains beautiful tapestries.

The Library and Music Rooms

The library and music room are two more beautiful rooms, the library contains over 1000 antique books and the music room has a harp from the late 18th century.

The Dining Rooms

The dining room does contain exquisite period furniture, but it stands out due to the unique 34 wooden painted panels on the walls, from the 17th century novel Don Quixote.  The smaller dining area is set with porcelain and crystal giving the chateau a lived in appearance.

Child’s Room

A child’s room with furniture dating from the 17th century, has added interest with toys from Napoleon III’s era.

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The Park and Gardens

The apprentice gardens have a formal layout and are complemented with fountains and sculptures.  There is also a large, open park with mature trees and a canal, here you can hire boats and/or electric cars during the summer. There is an orangery in the gardens which serves drinks, cakes and light meals and you can find a quite spot to relax and enjoy the ambiance.

The Kennels

The Chateau keeps over 100 hounds with are a cross between French Poitevin and English Foxhound, that are kept for hunting.  They weren’t particularly active when we were there, as you can see.  If you are interested in seeing the hounds fed, the website gives a list of days and times to see it.

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Marlinspike Hall

Not being Tintin fans, we didn’t visit the exhibit at the chateau.  The writer of Tintin, Herge, used the chateau as his model for the setting of his comic series.  The interactive exhibit lets you explore Tintin’s world.

Tourist Information Chateau de Cheverny

Opening Hours:

  • 1st of November – 31st of March – 10 am – 5 pm
  • 1st of April – 31st of October – 9.15 am – 6.30 pm

Costs:

2018 Chateau & Gardens Chateau, Gardens & The Secrets of Marlinspike Hall Chateau, Gardens, Ride on Electric Boats and Cars Chateau, Gardens, Secrets of Marlinspike Hall & Electric Boats and Cars
Tariffs for Individuals
Adult €11.50 €16 €16.50 €21
Children > 7

Students < 25

€8.20 €12.10 €12.30 €16.20
Children Under 7 Free Free €4 €4
Guided Tour Audio Tour is €4.50 per person
Tariffs for Groups

(Minimum 20)

No Guide Audio

Guide

No guide Audio

Guide

No Guide Audio

Guide

No Guide Audio

Guide

Adult €7.20 €8.70 €11.20 €12.70 €11.30 €12.80 €15.30 €16.80
Children 7 – 14 €4.30 €4.30 €7.30 €7.30 €7.40 €7.40 €10.40 €10.40
Children Under 7 For prices use the contact us form on website

Official Website: http://www.chateau-cheverny.fr/en/

Written by Karen

Last updated: January 2018