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Published: June 23rd 2016
We thought this day was going to be a simple day of visiting two of the Loire Valley châteaus and then driving back to Paris to turn in the rental car. After visiting the chateaus, however, it turned into a test of wills between us and the Paris traffic. I cannot begin to tell you how bad it is. It took us about 2-½ hours to go about 35 km. Ughhhhh
The Loire Valley has a number of large châteaus, mostly along the river itself. The Loire Valley was the seat of government for centuries, until the middle of the 16th century, when King Francois I moved the seat to Paris. Even after that time, the valley remained the chosen place of residence or of retreat for many prominent citizens who built large châteaus. Some of these were torn down during the French Revolution, but many have remained.
Château de Chenonceau is was built by by a private family, but became the property of Henry II who gave it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. It was expanded to span the Cher River, and is one of the most famous châteaus in the valley. During World War II, the
Cher River was the demarcation line between occupied France and Vichy France, and the location of the château allowed it to be used to smuggle people across the river. A visit to the château shows a place made for living, and there are large collections of old cooking implements in the kitchen area. The family that later owned the estate had an successor named Amantine-Lucile-Aurore-Dupin, but perhaps better known by her pen name, George Sand.
The Château de Chambord was built as a hunting lodge by Francois I, and is the largest château in the Loire Valley. There is a suggestion that Leonardo d Vinci, who was employed by Francis I and lived the last three years of his life in Château d'Amboise in an adjoining and connected house called Clos Luce. It is assumed that is is buried in the Saint-Hubery chapel there. Today Chambord is owned and run by the government. It is architecturally very interesting, but furnishings are scarce.
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