Monday Erin, Hannah and I planned a bike ride to Chambourd Castle (Chateau de Chambourd, Loire-et-Cher, one of the grandest in France.
It was around 20 kilometers to the castle, and of course I had to stop along the way to take a few photos. We rode on the opposite side of the river from Blois, so had a view of the church and chateau there just as we started out. We saw these chickens (they weren’t so close…I had a zoom) which looked very happy wandering in a garden, and a “small” chateau across the river. We went through a few small, picturesque towns too.
The castle was commissioned by Francois 1er of France and his initials and the salamanders that were his talisman are everywhere too. The château features 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases, but the central double helix staircase, which may have been designed by Leonardo DeVinci is the outstanding feature of the chateau. The castle was always meant as a hunting lodge, not as a fortress. It was built in the 1600s. Francoise 1er spent less than three months in the chateau during his lifetime, but did manage to host one of his rivals, King Charles V of Spain at Chambourd one time. Francoise 1er was called “big nose” for a reason.
After walking all over the chateau, we had crepes for lunch, and Erin and Hannah did a small wine tasting before we headed back to Blois. It took us nearly all day for this outing, since we got a late start (the bike company, which was a stand by Blois Chateau wasn’t open at 9 when we first looked for it….then we found out that most bakeries were closed on Monday mornings in France, so we had to hike back to the train station to get sandwiches…). It started raining too on the way back, so we ended up crashing early and getting ready for our last day in France…stay tuned!