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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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May 22, 2012

A Tuesday report for Saturday, Part One

Heather and I decided fairly last minute Friday that we'd sign up for a chateau/winery tour on Saturday so, very bright and early Saturday morning, we were up and out to our meeting place.  There were 11 of us plus the guide, the bus driver and the bus driver's wife.  Just a nice sized group.

On the way...my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower  
It was probably a 2-1/2 or 3 hour trip to Chateau de Chambord, our first stop.  This incredible structure was started by King Francis I who built it as a hunting lodge!  The first attempt was destroyed, so work started on the current structure in 1519.  By 1537, the towers, the keep, and the terraces had been completed by 1800 men and three master masons.  Francis died in 1547 before the chateau was completed. His son, Henry II, continued his work, and later, in 1685, Louis XIV completed the 440(!) roomed "lodge".  It sits on 13,000 acres, has 300 fireplaces and as our guide explained to us, was totally and completely unbearable to live in.  It was built basically on a swamp, was impossible to keep warm in winter, and apparently was pretty much unliveable.  The way our guide told the story, the chateau began to sound like a "hot potato".  It passed from hand to hand and no one could stand living there any length of time.  When the various kings did use it as a hunting lodge, it took 2,000 people to get him and his retinue moved out there along with the furniture, food, etc., etc., to make it liveable.  There was a later owner who for some strange reason managed to hang in there for 8 years but that was the longest resident.  Then during the French revolution, the rebels used it and burned up everything that could be burned including wooden doors and windows for heat.  So what little there is in the way of furnishings in the few rooms that you visit, is all reproduction.  But outside it is absolutely the most fantastic building I've ever seen.  It's like something Disney would build.  Has a Moorish influence which, along with its size, makes it very unlike other chateaux I've seen pictures of.

Here are the pictures I took there, but I have to admit that aside from the outside it really isn't much to see.  I'm not real sure why the tour we took takes the time to visit it when the other two places on the tour are quite wonderful and there actually wasn't time to enjoy the last one the way we would have liked to.

I think they crammed everything they could onto the roof.  It makes for a pretty spectacular appearance, right?

To us, this seems like it's "around back" but this is actually where the visitors entered rather than the more impressive "front".
The resident who stayed the 8 years installed this Polish heating stove and it is one of the very few items left from the original interior - it's tile so it couldn't be burned.
This room was the king's "receiving bedroom" where he received people from his inner circle or very important people.  He would be in bed (sort of like Winston Churchill?)  And before you would get to the bedroom, there were two anterooms in which you waited, moving from room 1 to room 2, and finally, the receiving room.

 This is looking into a single-helix staircase from outside on I guess a terrace?  balcony?  Anyway, inside as you enter, there is a double-helix staircase but I couldn't get a good spot for taking a picture plus which it was huge!  And it's believed to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.  Forgot that tidbit - the reason Francis I (who was 21 years old at the time) started this building was because he had been to Italy where the Renaissance was in full swing.  It had not reached France by that time and so Francis brought back his love for it and also brought back da Vinci, who died here and is buried not too far away.
A coffered ceiling - the close up shows a carving of the salamander which is everywhere as it was Francis's symbol.
 And, as you can see from the photos below, it was pretty much impossible to quit taking pictures until we actually left - just a fantastic place!  And, mind you, I weeded out a bunch of my pics!

And because I did end up with so many photos and because I need to stop this and go visit the Musee d'Orsay, I will close for now and finish Tuesday up tonight.

Hope you'll share your reactions to this marvelous, insane, fantastical place. :)

Au revoir!


Christopher said...

One of my top favorite chateaux in France, that I hope to see... the fireplaces, the double-helix stairwell, the crazy roofline... It is definitely a masterpiece! Glad you got to see it, and I, through your images!

Mary Lynne said...

I know. I said to Heather "Chris would go insane here!" Although the interior really isn't too inspiring aside from the staircases. Basically just stone block. Of course, we didn't go in that many rooms and I don't know if that's cause we just went in the ones that are allowed, or because that's all the guide wanted to spend time on. But I do agree, it is something to see. :)

Janet said...

I wouldn't even need to go inside - the outside is so spectacular, I would be content just looking and taking pictures (or looking at yours!!)

Christopher said...

PS---it was one of the influences for Biltmore Estate; particular the exterior spiral stairs.

Sarah said...

Thanks for taking us along:)
Love the Loire Valley...
lots of memories there. You're seeing the best! Must be great to be with Heather. Have you posted anything about Paris yet? I wonder if I missed that one...
Thanks again,
A bientot!

Mary Lynne said...

Hi Sarah - haven't posted too much about Paris cause up until yesterday (the rainy do nothing day) and today, I was with Heather. Friday we tried to see Notre Dame (see post) and had a cooking class. I'll be doing more now that I'm alone, but I'm so far not finding sightseeing in Paris all that enjoyable - just way too many people. Must have picked the wrong time of year.

And, Chris, yes, I knew about the Biltmore connection because the woman in our group that Heather called "the know-it-all" knew that and made sure to mention it to us, a couple of times in fact. :)

Janet - I don't remember comments from you before (which doesn't mean much - I don't remember much!) Are you from one of my on-line groups? At any rate, welcome!

Sarah said...

Mary Lynne,

Don't let Paris overwhelm...not usually so many people this time of year...just be careful of times at museums, etc. You can avoid crowds this way. Of course, ANY tour, you will have crowds. Not sure what arrondisement you're in....try to get to the 7th---wonderful and not so crazy...St. Germain area is great too---a bit more crowded but wonderful. Montmartre at times can be just too much---except at midnight:))

Mary Lynne said...

No, it's not overwhelming me. I just truly do NOT like huge throngs of people. Crowded is one thing, crammed together and unable to move from room to room is another. I did the D'Orsay today and am going to do l'Orangerie tomorrow and then I'll see how I feel about any more museums. There's plenty I can do that won't involve such enormous crowds, I'm sure. After all, after about 3 or 4 weeks in Florence, total, I've still never visited the Uffizi or the Accademia.

January said...

That is a pretty impressive building for a "failure"! Can't wait to see the pictures from the other two.

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