Saturday, June 15, 2013

Loire Valley

It seems that I still cannot wrap my head around the beauty that I am witnessing here. Yesterday was our last excursion, and we drove 2 hours from Angers to the Loire Valley to visit Le Chateau de Villandry, the Chateau du Clos Lucé Parc Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo Da Vinci's house), and the Chateau d'Amboise.

First on our list was Leonardo da Vinci's house in Amboise, France. The house was built in 1471 and was bought by Charles VIII in 1490 and was a royal residence and summer residence of the Kings of France for 200 years. King Francois I invited Leonardo da Vinci to come and live in the house in 1516.  In was in this house that he spent the last 3 years of his life, where he devoted his time to perfecting his inventions. The outside of the house was absolutely stunning and included a beautiful yard full of plants, flowers and a restaurant. The residence also overlooked the Chateau Amboise, which is where the remains of Da Vinci now reside. Guided by our lovely and vivacious tour guide Hedwig, we got to see his bedroom, the bedroom of Marguerite de Navarre, the oratory of Anne de Bretagne, Da Vinci's reception room, the kitchen, and the basement, which was devoted to showing his ingenius inventions.

The outside of the house! 

These framed quotes from Leonardo da Vinci were all over the house.

Leonardo's bed in his bedroom.

The view of the outside yard from the inside of the house. 

A painting from the Oratory of Anne de Bretagne. 

An 18th century salon room.

One of his inventions inside the basement. 

Beautiful roses outside of the house. 

The view from the outside of the house. You can see the Chateau Amboise in the distance. 

Our tour guide Hedwig holding a rose. 

So beautiful! 

After that visit, we stopped for lunch in Amboise, which is an adorable and quaint tourist city. I got a panini for lunch, and then treated myself to some delicious chocolate ice cream that came in the shape of a flower. They like to do their ice cream a little differently over here!

A cute pizzeria on a street next to the chateau in Amboise. It's so French! 

We then made our way to the Chateau d'Amboise. In 1434, the castle came into French hands when it was seized by Charles VII. Once in royal hands, the chateau became a favorite of French kings, from Louis XI to Francis I. King Francis I was raised in the chateau, and as a guest of the king, Leonardo da Vinci came to the chateau in 1515 and lived and worked nearby. During the French Revolution, a large part of the chateau was destroyed, and in the early 19th century, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned an engineering assessment that resulted in an even greater deal of the chateau having to be demolished. 

We had the opportunity to go inside and take a tour, where we saw the St. Hubert Chapel which was built under Louis XI, Leonardo da Vinci's burial place, Henri II's chamber, the music room, and the Orléans chamber, to name a few. 

Outside of the chateau. 

Another view of the chateau. 

The St. Hubert Chapel, where Leonardo da Vinci's remains are. 

St. Hubert Chapel entrance. 

The Orléans-Penthiévre Study 

A beautiful piano in the music room. 

The view of the city from the top of the chateau. 

Another view. 

Leonardo da Vinci statue. 

Finally, we headed to the Chateau Villandry, which I think was my favorite part of the day. For some brief history, the chateau was built in 1536 for Francis I. In 1754, a man named Marquis de Castellane purchased the chateau and had it redesigned to meet 18th century standards of comfort. In 1906, the chateau was bought by Joachim Carvallo, the great grandfather of the present owner, Henri Carvallo. It was he who created 16th century style gardens that were in perfect harmony with the architecture of the chateau. 

The inside was beautiful, and each room was painted a different bright pastel color which really worked with the 18th century decor. The best part for me was definitely the gardens, which were groomed perfectly to make it look like it was straight out of a picture. There is the ornamental garden, which contains four squares that makes up the love gardens. Each square has a different design for each kind of love, which includes tender love, passionate love, fickle love, and tragic love. There is also the water garden, the sun garden, a maze, an herb garden, and a vegetable garden. 

(Sorry for all the pictures, there's just so much to share!)

Outside of the Chateau Villandry. 

Another part of the Chateau where Henri Carvallo (the current owner) lives. 

An example of a room inside the chateau. This is the dining room. 

The kitchen. 

Fresh flowers inside the chateau. 

An aerial view of the gardens! 

A picture of me outside of the chateau. 

Our French 1 class with our professors, Marie and Zac :)

An aerial view of the love gardens.  

So many beautiful roses everywhere! 


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