Bored of Chateau de Versailles, the Louvre or Chateau de Fontainebleau? Then Chateaux the Chambord might just be perfect for your chateau-cravings. Located in the heart of the Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes, it is the largest chateau in the region; boasting over 400 rooms and 28 staircases. Its distinctive architecture and lush gardens attract many tourists each year, all wishing to catch a glimpse of this remarkable landmark.
The chateau is 2 and a half hours by drive from central Paris (through highways A10, exit Mer / A85, exit Selles-sur-Cher / A71, exit Lamotte-Beuvron ).
If driving is not to your liking, regular shuttles are organized by PARISCityVISION
It is also accessible by train from Gare Austerlitz in Paris. You should alight at Blois-Chambord (around 1hr20 mins), and then take the shuttle or taxi from there (25mins)
Feel free to check out our tips at the end of the article.
Here's a brief history of Chateau of Chambord for the historically curious travelers. The Chateau was first built by King Francis I (François I) of France through 28 years of construction. Unlike many chateaux in the region which served militaristic functions, Chateau de Chambord was mostly a symbol of wealth and power. It was mainly used as a hunting lodge for King Francis I.
The majestic chateau is surrounded by a forest as large as the city of Paris. The forest itself contains diverse wildlife and is circled by the largest wall in Europe.
It is debated that Leonardo Da Vinci was involved in the French Renaissance architecture of the chateau, which blends Renaissance structures with signs of French Medieval forms.
The iconic "Double Revolving" staircase at the center of the Chateau is said to have been an innovation ahead of its time. The double staircase, in which one goes down and the other goes up on the same axis, was extremely difficult to build. It is said that Leonardo Da Vinci made use of advanced mathematical calculations and construction methods in order to achieve such proportions.
Inside the Chateau, original pieces of tapestry and furniture are well-preserved. This is the ceremonial bedroom of King Louis XIV, where dazzling chandeliers suspend from glamorous high ceilings ornated in gold. The elegant furniture compliment the setting through its meticulous craftmanship. It is easy to imagine the sheer luxury and opulence in which the French royals lived in.
To be discovered are the 20 plus smaller apartments styled with simpler yet homey decor. The different owners used the chateau as an entertainment lodge, and its guests have the privilege to stay in one of these elegant apartments.
Through the long hallways and grand lobbies lies a small chapel overlooking the calm neighboring village.
The village is very cute and charming. The small chapel is worth a visit; its adorned blue ceilings make its design one of a kind.
Outside the castle, you'll find some cafés and a small market selling french delicacies and souvenirs. It is a great setting to sit back, relax, and take in the view of the castle while enjoying your afternoon coffee.
O'BON PARIS NOTE
Save some time to visit the vast formal gardens; a picnic in the afternoon would be ideal.
Also, I heard the madeleines are delicious there, though I haven't had the chance to try them yet. Tell us what you think if you've tried it, we'd love to hear from you!
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Author and Photographer: Pierre Ieong