“ Sightseeing Type: Castles / Palaces / Address: Loir-et-Cher / France „
The Loire Valley located in Central France is famous for its historical towns such as Blois and Amboise, however it is probably more famous for the famous Chateau's. Perhaps the most famous of these would be the Chateau de Chambord. Designed in the French Renaissance style the Chateau is the best known within the region. The Chateau was originally built as a hunting lodge for King Francois 1st. Situated within 13,000 acre forest the setting for Chambord couldn't be any more impressive.
From your first view of the Chateau it is a truly magnificent building. Positioned on the side of an expanded River the Ford around the front of the Chateau adds to the overall impression of the Chateau. The front of the building looks exactly as you would expect a Chateau or Castle to look as it towers above everything in the area and really gives that overall impression of its intended use.
Of course these days rather than being a hunting lodge for any members of French Royalty the Chateau is now a very popular tourist destination within the area. The Chateau and it's grounds are open for visitors 362 days a year for a very reasonable Euro9.50. During the summer there is a special light show that costs a little extra but is really worth seeing. They project the show onto the front of the Chateau with the music and light's filling the sky and creating a fascinating atmosphere for everyone watching.
While the grounds themselves are incredibly impressive and give you an opportunity to view the local wildlife, it's inside the Chateau that is perhaps the most impressive. With the Leonardo Da Vinci designed double staircase in the centre of the main building the Chateau has an impressive entrance that really takes your breath away. As soon as you enter the main house everyone stops to marvel at the amazing architecture and design within the Chateau.
It doesn't stop there either as all off the rooms have been restored and maintained in their original condition. In each of the rooms are details of the original usage and as you progress through the Chateau there is a real feeling of not only the history of the Chateau but also the way of life the original occupiers would have had. It is a fascinating place to visit that really highlights the history of France and the architectural styles of the past.
With exhibits covering three floors and access to the roof with spectacular views over the forest below it makes the tour of the inside well worthwhile. The cost is comparative to all of the other Chateau's in the area and having visited Blois and Amboise I would say that Chambord provides the best value for money. While the free guide you get on entry is more than adequate for guiding yourself around there is also an optional audio guide in English for an extra Euro9, but we decided to stick to the handy guide and reading the exhibit information rather than simply having it read to us.
Located just next to the Chateau is the small village of Chambord which is made up of a number of small shops and restaurants. It means that as well as visiting the Chateau it is possible to just relax whilst enjoying the view of this magnificent view of this spectacular building enjoying a meal. The prices of course are slightly elevated in both the shops and the restaurants but with a view of the main Chateau behind you and the relaxed atmosphere of the village it makes it a worthwhile experience.
Once away from the village and into the surrounding Forest there are plenty of things to do that won't cost you a penny. On two of the main access roads through the Forest there are wildlife observatories where you can see Wild Boars, Deer and Sheep roaming around the grounds. These lookouts are well sign posted from the road and are also within walking distance of the Chateau itself. A visit to these at around about dusk seems to give the best results for seeing the animals and as we were staying locally this became a nightly occurrence during our week there.
Away from the organised viewing posts there are also a number of foot and cycle paths that wind their way through the Forest allowing you to get a little closer to nature. These walks are all well signposted and generally easy to follow and give you the opportunity to come face to face with the Deer especially. Coupled with this are a number of Picnic areas that make your visit to the Chateau De Chambord more than just the Chateau itself.
With the combination of historical interest and amazing architecture it really makes the Chateau de Chambord somewhere that is really worth visiting. From its impressive grounds filled with Wild Boar, Deer and Wild Sheep there is plenty of things to see and do within the grounds of this spectacular location and somewhere I think most people would be able to gain something from a visit here.
This is the largest castle in the Loire Valley. It was constructed by King Francois I.