My French friend spent two weeks this summer acting as guide on a bicycle tour of the Loire River Valley in France. The tour group consisting of adults and children visited several beautiful French Chậteaux during the trip including the largest one in the Loire Valley, Chambord, seen above. He kindly sent postcards and photographs of them to share. This postcard is an Editions Valoire-Estel-Blois, Production LECONTE, by Alliance Carterie.
King Francis I of France whose royal residences were at Blois and Amboise had this chậteau built as a hunting lodge although records show he only spent about seven weeks in total there. The construction period lasted 28 years from 1519 to 1547 and it was never completed. The castle is not located near a village or estate and there was no immediate source of food other than game making it necessary to bring in food and supplies for the guests, all 2,000 of them. The furniture, wall coverings, cooking and eating pots, pans, dishes, flatware were brought in specifically for each hunting trip. The rooms were large, had open windows and high ceilings making it difficult and impractical to heat and use often. After Francis I died in 1547 it went unused and left to fall into decay for about 80 years. King Louis XIII gave the castle to his brother, Gaston d’Orléans, in 1639 and he made a few restorations to the chậteau. Later King Louis XIV had the keep restored, furnished royal apartments and added a 1,200 horse stable but he abandoned the chậteau in 1685.
The castle was not intended to provide defense from enemies hence the walls, towers and a partial moat are decorative only. During the French Revolution in 1792 some of the furnishings were sold and timber removed. During this time period and until later in the 19th century, when some attempts of restoration were made, the castle was left abandoned. Art work from the Louvre collections were moved to Chambord for safety reasons during World War II. Today the chậteau is open to the public and receives approximately 700,000 visitors annually.
The roofs have been likened to the skyline of a town. It has eleven kinds of towers and three types of chimneys. Francis I wanted it to look like the skyline of Constantinople. The towers are more like the minarets of 15th century Milan than the turrets and spires of what then was contemporary French design. One of the highlights inside the castle is the double helix open staircase.
Today Chambord has survived its mixed history to become one of the most well-known and photographed castles in France. After almost 500 years the investment is finally paying dividends in the form of tourism.
Below are a few pictures my friend sent showing details Chambord.
Exterior views with chimneys
Interior with double helix staircase and carved ceiling
The commemorative stamp on the card shows the International Space Station
As always, my thanks to my friend for sharing postcards and photos!
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