As soon as the valley of the Loire is called: the heart of France, the receptacle of her true spirit, her adornment and the cradle of glory. Without exaggeration, without coquetry, not allowing historical errors, each statement has under itself factual proof. Indeed, it is on the banks of this river, by no means the largest in France, that the history of the greatness of the French kingdom began. It was here, and not in Paris, as one might think, more than once decided the fate of the state. It is her banks that remember the footprints of the steps of representatives of all the royal dynasties of France. These picturesque places witnessed the bloody battles of the Orleans Virgin, the last years of Leonardo da Vinci's life, the great love of Henry II and Diana de Poitiers, the first woman to voice the canons of true beauty. Here the fabric of time is thinning and history ceases to be a collection of dry dates and enumeration of significant events. It materializes, becomes tangible and accessible for understanding, it is only worth seeing the locks of the Loire located all along the river. Reliable guards, silent witnesses of heroism, greatness, fall, self-sacrifice and betrayal. Each castle on the Loire has its own history, one way or another connected with women. Anna Breton, Jeanne d'Arc, Catherine de Medici, Margarita of Navarre and Anna of Austria ... Familiar names, is not it? Who among us in his childhood was not read by Dumas's novels; but did you visit the idea that you can see with your own eyes the parks that the heroes and heroines of the novels have been wandering about, or settle for the night in one of the nearby chateaux, where unthinkable intrigues and the destinies of whole states have been resolved? If you decide to make a trip to the past of great France, it is better to do it yourself. Moreover, along the Loire lies the cycle route "Po Loire by bicycle". 120 km of smooth roads for cyclists. It is impossible to get lost, despite the fact that the route runs through small forests. Pointers with the name of the locality where you are now, here at every step. And spending the night under the roof of a small chateau, though not as grand and majestic as the first castle that meets on the way to Blois, will give the opportunity to feel like a real traveler in time. So, with the charm inherent in the French, you can go on a trip to the Boulevard of Kings!
Jeanne, Anna and Catherine
We knowingly mentioned that women played in thehistory of France a huge role. And in the castle of the Reformer King Louis XII and in the famous Blois Cathedral you will find that confirmation. Here the Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc, received the blessing, going into battle against the English. They immediately sang Catherine de Medici - the greatest intriguer who started the Bartholomew night, only to get rid of Henry of Navarre, the husband of his own daughter. The Blois castle itself is the residence of the great Anne of Brittany, which not only has managed to become the wife of two kings, Karl and Louis, but also a visionary politician and the richest woman in Europe. Not bad for the 15th century, is it? By the way, it is thanks to Anna that girls wear a white dress on their wedding day. The Queen of France became the first who dared to put on mourning for that moment colors. But let's get acquainted with the Chateau de Blois itself. If we rephrase the King of Navarre, Blois is worth a mass. Not for nothing that this castle was chosen as the residence of two king-reformer, Francis I and Louis XII. The Château de Blois began to be built as a fortress, capable of protecting the whole city and holding back the enemy in the event of a siege, but ended up as a country estate. Over the course of four centuries, new parts were attached to it. His contribution to the construction of Blois was made by such great masters as Benvenuto Cellini, Andreo Dante Sarto. The castle, whose walls were touched by the hands of geniuses, amazes imagination. Huge fireplaces, carved beams and balustrades, secret rooms, cornices, embroidered with carved vines. After wandering along the corridors of this castle, you can study the architecture of France from the Renaissance. Or, perhaps, to meet in the cabinet of poisons the ghost of Catherine de Medici or the murdered Henry Giza. But if you decide to continue studying the Loire castles on your own, then it's time for you to go to Chambord Castle.
And the kings hunt hunting
Oh, these kings, whatever they invented,to deceive their wives and at the same time observe etiquette! Chambord Castle owes its appearance to the enamored Francis the First. To be closer to his lover, Countess Turi, he ordered the construction of Chambord in the beginning of the 16th century. But Francis, like all kings, was not used to trivializing, and instead of a hunting lodge he built a most beautiful castle, which to this day is considered the pearl of the Renaissance. Not a little pearl turned out! At one time, Margaret of Navarre, being in the castle, complained that wandering along the corridors and staircases of the castle takes her a very long time every day. And a couple of times she even lost her way in the intricacies of the rooms. In the park of this hunting hut you can fit half of Paris. It is here that with all the clarity it is felt that the kings do everything on a grand scale. What ended the love story of Francis, we do not know. But before the descendants, he was justified, giving the world a masterpiece of castle architecture. Even after centuries, looking at the Loire Valley from the height of the castle terrace, there is a desire to immediately write a couple of poems as a tribute to beauty and grandeur.
Age - not an obstacle, the main thing to be a blonde
I would like once again to warn those who are going tomake an independent journey through the castles of the Loire Valley: stay away from organized excursions. They will not let you enjoy the beauty that appears before you. In any of the castles, you can pay the attendant for an individual tour, and instead of memorized texts get a real story, in the course of which the story comes to life for you. The schedule of such a trip you can make up according to your own biorhythms. But that's not all the advantages. Around the major and tourist-visited castles, there are a lot of inconspicuous small chateaux with an equally rich history. On the road from Chambord to Chenonceau is an inconspicuous, at first glance, castle - Chateau de Frileuse. But this is only at first glance. A real woman is simply obliged to visit here! After all, the owner of this castle is a real perfumer. His ancestors were fragrances for courtiers. For a relatively small amount, you can afford to bring home the fragrance used by Queen Margo or Diane de Poitiers. By the way, Diane de Poitiers, a favorite of Henry II, was the first owner of the Castle of the Dam-Chenonceau. Heinrich was crazy about a witty beautiful blonde, despite the fact that she was 19 years older than himself. So his wife, Catherine de Medici, had to clench her teeth, tolerate the "aged" nahalka and proudly squared her shoulders, along with her rival to go to the castle pond to feed the black swans. After this, it becomes clear why Catherine became a poisoner. But she would not be a Medici, if after Henry's death she did not recoup on Diana and took away her castle. And Diane de Poitiers has sunk into obscurity. Apparently, in an attempt to get rid of all the rival's tracks, Catherine began to reorganize it. Thanks to her efforts, Chenonceau Castle became the largest castle in France, built in the Renaissance style. Another feature of this castle was that it always belonged to women. No man is listed as an owner. And one more interesting detail. It does not matter how much time passed, how many mind-blowing intrigues were woven under the roof of the castle, how many love tragedies took place in its secret corners, but none of them ended in murder. So, if you do not like bloody stories, stay in Chenonceau.
Kings and cabbage
At first glance, this is rather strangelogical series: locks - Loire - kings - cabbage. But only at first glance. As soon as you get to the Chateau de Villandry, every word is filled with meaning and ... beauty. But it's better to start from the very beginning. Since Villandry is the last castle built in the Renaissance style. It seems that there is nothing special about it. Yes, a beautiful castle. But after the beauties of Shansono and Blois, you will be hard to surprise. Enter the castle and ... lose the gift of speech. The interiors of the castle, pilasters, the Arabian ceiling, consisting of more than three thousand pieces. But that's not all, ahead of you is a real miracle - the three-level Villandry gardens. The first - a mirror pond, fountains, old lemon trees, trimmed boxwood bushes. That's where you understand the beauty of nature! Even if it is perfected by a human genius. In the garden it does not cut eyes, does not cause rejection. You can walk along the lime avenues or get lost in the green labyrinth. Garden of love, a garden of medicinal plants, a garden of passion. Do you think these are just names? Nothing like this. You can move from the garden to the garden and admire the beautiful, almost mathematically verified flower beds and the shrub-cut bushes. In each of these gardens you understand how poor your language is, how insignificant the words are. They fade in front of this beauty. Bright colors, correct shapes and ... mood. It accompanies you all the time while you are in the Villandry gardens. That's where you can feel like a queen. No, why waste time on trifles? Goddess Flora! Well, here we got to the royal cabbage. Can you imagine that a garden, something that is associated in our minds with a country's six hundred square meters, can be brought to the level of park art? So, on the lower level of the Villandry gardens you can see it with your own eyes. And to understand that the bush of eggplant can be said, using such epithets as beautiful or inspiring. It is not possible to call this incredible vegetable mosaic the town does not turn. Settled in one of the garden gazebos, I want to stay there forever. True, there is a risk of dying from hunger, because to encroach on such beauty for the sake of banal saturation the hand will not rise.
Castle of the sleeping beauty
One look at Castle Usse inspired the greatstoryteller Charles Perrault to write a story about a sleeping beauty. Refined, like all buildings in the Gothic style. If you look at the castle from afar, you can quite feel like a heroine of a fairy tale. For completeness, the picture is missing only the banners fluttering above the roofs of the castle of Usse. And the heralds with brass pipes, inviting everyone to look at the beautiful royal child. But this is fixable. As soon as you enter the castle itself, a real fairy tale will open before you. Especially for lovers of fairy tales in the castle there is an exposition of wax figures, made based on the fairy tale of Perrault. Complement the experience of a collection of Flemish tapestries and weapons. By the way, one more interesting feature of this castle - in it for all history of its existence never stayed one of the kings, in spite of the fact that the rooms for the august person were always prepared. What happened there, and why no king decided to step into the fairy tale, it's difficult to say now. But here is to visit the castle of a sleeping beauty. Especially since the surname of one of its owners will seem vaguely familiar to you - D'Epine. And for a long time you will be tormented with vague memories from books read in childhood, until the name of the Earl of Monte Cristo pops up. They say that once you have visited France, you will remember it yearning for a year. Once in Paris, you will realize that you were born in the wrong city. And once visiting the castles of the Loire, you will feel just how to make a step from the present to the past. And you will return here at any opportunity. Fortunately, three hundred castles that are located in the valley of the famous river, enough with more than one, and a dozen exciting trips. We advise you to read: