Tuesday, September 25, 2018

3 Day Travel Guide to Val de Loire, France

I just went on a 10-day trip with my Wake Forest Dijon program; 3 days in the Val de Loire, 5 days in Paris and 2 days exploring Impressionism.

Val de Loire was amazing because who doesn’t love touring and exploring some beautiful castles.

Our first stop was Chateau de Chambord. 

In class we studied all about antiquity, classicism, baroque, and renaissance architecture and art. This is the biggest chateau in the Val de Loire and it incorporated all of the styles of art and architecture that we studied. 
Everything in this castle shows richness and power.
This castle was MASSIVE! 

The symbol of the salamander and the Fleur de Lis decorated the panels all over the chateau.
This chateau showed a return to antiquity with marble busts.
There is also classicism in the tapestries.

This chateau is famous for the double stairs in the middle of the chateau.

This first chateau showed us the transition between chateaus as a symbol of power and pleasure and not just for military purposes.
This chateau was also interesting because all the roofs are circular and are slate.

Chenonceau was the next stop on our Val de Loire tour.
This chateau was way more feminine than Chambord. We learned that this chateau was the house for the wives or mistresses, which made sense because the minute we stepped onto the grounds we saw the beautiful pink and purple gardens and the cone shaped roofs.

The interior was also painted white which represents femininity and purity, whereas Chambord had wood floors and ceilings in natural wood color.
This chateau was also just a engineering marvel because the main part of the chateau rests above the river, Cher.

A little history on this chateau, Henry II gave Chenonceauto Diane de Poitiers and when he died Henry II’s wife and queen, Catherine de Medici wanted the castle that she rightfully owned despite Henry II’s mistress inhabiting Chenonceau. Quite the scandal.

I loved Chenonceaua lot more than Chambord. They were both gorgeous and I highly recommend going, but I just loved how feminine Chenonceau is, specifically in the gardens.

After touring the chateaus, we took a tour of the city of Tours, which was where we stayed during our visit of Val de Loire.
Tours is another big college town with a tram-way, very similar to Dijon.
Originally, Tours was a fortified city that was settled by the Gallo-Romans.
There are still the towers from the corners of the walled city.
It was interesting to see that in Tours, brick was used by the Romans to construct their buildings.
The Romans also created a straight road in Tours.

The train station is beautiful and was designed by the famous architect Victor Laloux, who also designed Grand Central Station in NYC. I just can’t get away from New York! It follows me where ever I go!

A little fun story about this city is that the Barnum Circus (Greatest Showman!!) came to town and the giant elephant got loose and terrorized the town. The towns people killed the elephant and now it is memorialized in glass next to the art musuem.

Tours is also famous because it is where Jeanne d’Arc told the king during the Hundred Years War that she was going to fight with him.
Tours also used to be the capital of France.

After our tour of Tours (HA!) the next day we went to the chateau de Blois.
It’s François I’s chateau in the middle of the city on a hill.
This castle’s architecture was really fascinating because on the interior square you can see all the different styles of architecture from over the years. There is classicism, Renaissance, gothic and flamboyant all on one castle.

In the palace, which is now a museum, there was a description of what all the symbols of all the kings and queens were. 
If you care to know: the salamander was the symbol of François 1, the Fleur de Lis is the symbol of power and religion, the porcupine is the emblem of Louis XII and it symbolizes invulnerability of the royal power.

I LOVED touring the castles, because I still dream of being a princess, and I am a princess in my own mind… 
After our three days in Val de Loire, we drove to PARIS, the city of love and the city of lights for a week full of adventure, love and laughter.


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