Musée des Beaux Arts
The Chateau also has a small art gallery which features items from the 16th through the 19th century. There are some fascinating portraits, including this one of the oddly hirsute Antoinette Gonsalvus. It was painted by Lavinia Fontana in 1580.
CHATEAU DE BLOIS
Chateau de Blois is an amazing castle on a little hill in Blois that combines four distinct wings around a single courtyard, each one corresponding to a certain period and style.
You can see the rider statue of Louis XII above the entrance gate to the castle. Notice the feet of the horse. The sculptor made a mistake here, because a horse can never lift two feet on one side.
Château Royal de Blois: Wallcoverings, Part II
“England is now separated from the Holy See because of a refusal of such a dispensation. However, there is nothing of this kind to fear in France, for the king and my other sons are all very good Catholics.”
— Catherine de’Medici (1519-1589)
GOOD CATHOLICS In the above the quote the Dowager Queen of France reminds Pope Gregory XIII that it would be wise for him to accept the proposed marriage of her daughter, Marguerite, to the Protestant Henri II, King of Navarre.
In an earlier tip (Blois Things To Do: Château Royal de Blois: Fireplaces, Part I) I wrote about the contribution that Catherine de’Medici made to France’s culinary life. Along these same lines, she brought another Italian refinement to her adopted land.
When Catherine married Prince Henri on 28.October.1533, when both were 14 years old, her dowry included several dozen dinner forks wrought by the master Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. By the late 16th century, for reasons of cleanliness, the fork had gained acceptance with upper-class Italians. The French Court, however, considered it an awkward, even dangerous, utensil. The fork’s use remained a mystery; the French nobility did not accept it until the late 17th century. Even Louis XIV continued to eat with his fingers!
Catherine’s interests were not limited to the kitchen and the dining table. She was a Medici, a family whose patronage of the arts helped launch the Italian Renaissance.
Catherine de’Medici brought ballet to France. In Paris in 1581 the Ballet Comique de la Reine was a court entertainment, one of many that Catherine organized. Queen Louise, wife of Henri III and Catherine’s daughter-in-law, and the women of her household were the ballerinas. Known for its length of more than five hours and its elaborate sets and costumes, the story centers on the myth of the Circe, Goddess of the Earth.
Entertainment’s theme was a request that the forces of the cosmos come to the aid of France’s monarchy, which was threatened by rebellion, from the Huguenots and from Catholic nobles, too. Men were reduced to beasts by Circe. Louise and her ladies danced ballets, and the Four Cardinal Virtues petitioned to the gods to come to earth and defeat Circe. With a clap of thunder, Jupiter descended, seated on an eagle. Jupiter gave Circe’s power to the royal family, protected France from the horrors of civil war, and blessed Henri with the wisdom to govern. He needed it; he was a weak king.
At the end of the performance, Catherine saw that Louise give Henri a gold medal showing a dolphin. The gesture expressed Catherine’s desire that the couple would produce a male heir (un dauphin, as the heir to France’s throne is called) to continue the Valois dynasty. It did not work. Henri died childless and the Valois dynasty came to an end.
Blois- Chateaux de la Loire
"Few of Blois, by the way."
I was in the Loire region twice, the first around 1997 and the second in the summer 2002, during an Inter-Rail trip.
We didn't see much of Blois, or, let me say I didn't take many pics, but we did see much of it, as we stayed at a Formule 1 Hotel, in the outskirts of the city, and going all the way up on foot from them the station.
As you'll see, it's called Blois but it's mainly on the chateaux de la Loire.