If you can only see one...
If you can only see one chateau, see Chenonceaux for its stunning setting on the river and its colorful history. Also: Blois has history (think Queen Margot); Chambord is imposing; Azay-le-Rideau is charming; Cheverny is a little gem, and still inhabited; Chinon is fortresslike; and Saumur has a lovely little town, is somewhat off the beaten path, but offers a lively sound and light show. Also: Fontevraud is a lovely abbey (but transportation connections were weirdly French when I was there--I seem to remember buses only on certain days of the week at odd hours)...
Visiting le Château de...
Visiting le Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley.
People say that the Château de Chambord is one of the 'loveliest Renaissance buildings' in the Loire Valley. It was a retreat for French kings, especially Louis XIV.
History of Castellane
In the 5th century,Castellane became the centre of a bishopric.Barbarian invasions in 9th century led to the fortification the the "roc"and the creation by "Petra Castellum".The ramparts were put up in 14th century to stop bandits attacking.In the 16th century,,there were Holy Wars which threatened the town.
The siege of the 31st January 1586.This day was when a lady single handed saved the town.Judith Andrau was visiting her nephew and she broke into enermy territory and she found out in which direction the attack was going to come.
That same night she lay in wait for the attackers when they came to try and blow the gates open and she saw them off by pouring hot tar over them.So now every year since then,January 31st of each year,there is a "fete du Petardier" which thanks her for her bravery.
This song was written for her "A brave Judith,
Armed with her own courage
By her valour defied
The enermy full of rage"
"Let's get the details out of the way!"
The city of Tours, with a population of almost 150,000 (maybe double that if the surrounding districts are counted) is well worthy of a visit as a destination in its own right, quite apart from being in the Loire chateaux and wine country. It is 240km from Paris, but can be reached by TGV in an hour to an hour and a half, depending if any stops are involved.
Its history predates Roman times, when it was called Turonensis. Much later, from time to time, the Kings of France also visited, their chateaux being nearby. More recently, it served briefly as France’s capital during the Prussian War of 1871, when the Government of National Defence based itself there during the siege of Paris. I was fascinated to read that the Government at that time set up a microphotography unit in Tours, so that carrier pigeons could maintain communications to Paris – carrying up to 40,000 microfilmed despatches at a time – a technology I would have thought much more recent! In World War II, a later Government also moved there briefly in 1940, before settling in at Vichy: but apparently not before extensive urban damage from bombing.
On our previous visit to France, Pauline and I had visited the Loire area, but had based ourselves in Amboise and had not visited Tours. I was keen to fill that gap, so I broke my Paris visit for a TGV excursion.
It must be said that, although pleasant, much of the ‘new’ Tours is unexceptional. But the ‘old town’ is marvellous and captivated me during my visit. Tours has much of the charm of Paris; it has history and character; it has a pleasant and relaxed feeling; it has the chateau and vineyard country surrounding it; and it has Paris ‘just up the road’ for a day trip by TGV. Much as I love Paris, I doubt I could live in any big city: but, given that combination of attractions, I feel I could happily live in Tours! (Thought… would that make me a ‘Tourist’ ?) J