Chambord royal castle of France – Even more impressive than told
Our wandering in the royal castles of the Loire valley continues with Chambord. Grabbing our rental bikes from Blois train station, we glance at the weather forecast again: cloudy and cool temperatures.
We cycle past the lower part of le Bourg Saint Jean down the river. We dive straight into a breathtaking scenery as we make our way along the cycle route. The Loire river banks meander away from the road. Traditional flat bottomed wooden boats float effortlessly here and there. Picturesque little villages stand out here and there as if straight out of a french painting. Sheer gorgeousness. This is paradise for outdoor lovers.
The weather forecast has it all wrong though. It is drizzling. It is windy. The real feel is therefore a good old 6-7°C. The 20km or so ride from Blois take us much longer than anticipated. It does feel like we are players in Spielberg’s Ready Player One movie. And obviously i am Sammantha Cook ;-).
Somehow, it feels like we are on a treasure hunt. The Seemingly endless countryside makes for it though. Slightly frozen, we enter the royal grounds and excitement takes over. The graal isn’t far.
Chambord the big daddy
Suddenly, there it stands as we exit the domanial forest. I cycle faster to get closer faster. Didn’t i say it felt like a treasure hunt. I now understand why it is the best of the the royal castles of the Loire valley. Looking down at the information i have, i am gobsmacked. The chateau is surrounded by a 20 miles long wall. It houses 80 staircases! Well that would make a good workout 😉 430 rooms which means one can be in a different room every day of the year and still not see them all.
As if that isn’t enough, there are approx 300 fireplaces (oh, how romantic! Ok more like heat please during the winter months)
It has the largest enclosed forest in Europe. So, an encounter with a charming deer or an intimidating boar at some point in the grounds is likely. All in all, it took approximately 20 years to build this royal retreat. I get off my bike and stare, mouth wide open.
For a minute, my body forgets the hunger, wind and cool temperatures it has been fighting with for the past 2-3 hours as i stand and stare. On a sunny day, the reflection in the surrounding waters must be just wow. Sheer splendeur. Grandiose.
Chambord “the hunting place” of the royal castles of the Loire valley
As we pause for lunch break, hot coffee and beer, excitement grows even more. Moving forward, we are in awe before the stunning architecture. King Francois I gave life to his dream with Chambord. In love with Italian architecture, it appears the chateau is modeled after an Italian church. The roofs are a mix of fairy tale towers, lanterns, chimneys.
The emblem of the monarchy, a lys flower, crowns the highest tower. Can you believe some of royal castles of the Loire valley were actually not used that much? Chambord was never lived in and king Francois I only spent 72 days there during his 32-year reign. What a sheer display of wealth and power.
Symmetry and renaissance define Chambord
Most of all, the chateau is built around four identical towers with a main structure in the middle. In the centre sits a jaw dropping double spiral staircase. The design means that one person can climb up while the another one descends without ever meeting one another. Apparently to King Francois I wanted to his wife meeting his mistress. Apparently, Leonardo Da Vinci may be behind this design.
further, It’s mind boggling to realise that furniture were designed to be packed and unpacked as the king and its entourage came and went. Glorious.
The various terraces provide amazing views of staircases and chimney’s structure. The lantern tower and the roof terrace are the cherry on the cake. Accessed via the double helix staircase, the bird’s eye view of the grounds, pinnacles, towers, chimneys, lanterns and surrounding landscapes is breathtaking.
Consequently, with it’s opulence and aristocratic grandeur, Chambord rivals Versailles. Wandering through the rooms, we admire the carved ceilings, the hanging tapestries. A step back in time. Our imagination is in full swing. The former grandeur lives on. No wonder Chambord is the big daddy of the royal castles of the Loire valley.
Blois charms us. Chambord exceeds our expectations. We grab our bikes and tackle the 2 hours ride back. Our next exploration ground is Chenenceau.
xoxo M. Let’s share our inspiration