Chambord in the Loire valley (41), France.

The chateau of Chambord the most unique place that Renaissance as left us. This palace rises up in 1519.

The territory of Chambord was joined to the royal domain with the succession of King Louis XII, who inherited from the Counts of Blois. A few years later, François I at the beginning of his reign decided that he would create a new residence in place of the old fortress and maintain a vast hunting park around it.

The initial territory however was not big enough for the king’s ambitions; he planned on acquiring neighbouring private property, particularly the wooded lands to the south in order to create his vast territory. The king himself went to the site in 1523 to mark out the border of his park with wooden stakes. A legal negotiator was even sent from the chamber of accounts in Paris to negotiate with the owners – the lands were exchanged for other royal lands or simply bought at good prices. However, some landowners resisted – enclaves of private land remained within the territory François I amassed, land he could not annex, such as the seigniory of Thoury in the east. At the end of his reign, Chambord’s domain covered 2,500 hectares.

The park grew throughout the 17th century, when Gaston d’Orléans, brother of Louis XIII, continued François I’s work. Between 1643 and 1662, new land was purchased or exchanged in what is currently the south-western area of the domain. The park reached its definitive limits with a size of 5,540 hectares.

The king Francois 1st wanted this palace for just a few weeks per year, for mainly hunting in the forest. King Henry II continued the construction on the chapel wing, upon his death in 1559.

Rarely after, the chateau had the visit of a king.

The double-helix staircase is undoubtedly the most distinctive architectural feature of the château. Although it cannot be seen from outside the château, the central place it occupies in the keep, like a jewel in an elaborate box, sets it off in a way that had never been done before. It is made up of an open central space, around which two stairways are wound, one on top of the other, to reach the main storeys of the building. It is a construction of marvellous ingenuity similar to sketches made by Leonardo da Vinci. This staircase where, magically, two people can ascend in sight of one another but without ever meeting, continues to fascinate visitors today as it has since its construction.

Under Louis XIV, the Sun King, the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart finished the construction of the chateau.

The chateau as both Renaissance and Medieval inspiration but was mainly refurnished in the 18th century.

Several apartments today recreate the flamboyant style of the 18th century, a time when the château was used as a residence by figures close to Louis XV and by the governors of the château (the Maréchal de Saxe’s official apartment, the Conti apartment, laurel chamber and governors’ chambers). Major efforts were made during this period to make the building warmer and more comfortable. The ceilings were lowered, the walls hung with fabric or covered with wood, the floors finished with parquet and the rooms used as living rooms in François I’s time were divided with wooden partitions into several smaller rooms (antechamber, bedrooms, studies, or rooms for dressing, etc.). The château also was filled with rich furnishings and with every year became more liveable than in the past.

Louis XV, used it for his father in law, the king Stanislas Leszczynski , king of Poland.

Arriving on the terraces brings more astonished sighs from visitors. More than the 360° panoramic view the terraces provide of Chambord park, they make visitors feel as if they were guests in a celestial village. The roofs of the surrounding wings spike up, dotted with points at staircases, chimneys and dormers with abundant decoration. This exuberance of rooftop summits breaks with the reserve of the façade and beautifully caps the imposing mass of the keep. At the centre, above the double-helix staircase, the lantern tower rises up, the highest point of the château (56m), topped with the symbol of the kings of France, the fleur de Lys.

Be patient if you go during the season, it is very crowded.

Restaurants, cafes and even a hotel are on the domain. Lots of souvenir shops.

Welcome in the unforgettable Chateau de Chambord.


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