jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 38 [8 Mar 09] – Tours

Posted in Tours by jn82 on March 8, 2009

*I only just realised tonight that the full size of the landscape oriented pictures were not loading fully with the old blog theme, and have thus changed the blog theme to a wider one so what the full dimensions of the landscape oriented pictures can be displayed. Go back in time if you thought there was something wrong with the old blog post pictures!*

Took a day trip today from Tours to the small city of Blois, a small city around 40km from Tours. The train ride was on a slower and older inter-city train, but the seats were very comfortable and the carriage we were in had no one else in it (for almost the entire ride to Blois).

Corail Intercites 14056 from Tours – Paris.

Inside the carriage.

Upon reaching Blois, it was very weird that all the retail shops and 50% of cafes were closed on a Sunday. I guess that there are not many locals around over the weekend, especially during the winter period which sees less tourists.

The main reason for coming to Tours was to use it as a base for château touring, of which Blois boasted of the famous Château de Blois, a Renaissance château once occupied by King Louis XII. (Borrowing the description from Wikipedia, it was also the residence of several French kings, and the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English from Orléans. After paying the cheap 6€ concession entry fee, we began to walk around the château.

Château de Blois.

The first part of the château we saw was the medieval fortress, which was built by the counts of Blois from the 10th century onwards, and has been the largest Gothic hall in France from the 13th century onwards. It consisted of the hall of the estates general (which was pretty boring) and the lapidary museum, which housed original stones and carvings from the different wings in the château.

Hall of the estates general.

Example of a stone carving.

The next part of the château was the François I wing, which housed various rooms which were restored in the 19th century according to how Félix Durban imagined them to be. He created the painted decoration abd conceived an ideal layout of a late 16th century royal apartment. On the first floor were the apartments of  the François I and afterward Catherine de medicis.

Queen’s bedchamber.

19th century stained glass window in the oratory.

After this, it was on to the second floor, which was the King’s apartments under Henri III. The most interesting room here was the hall of the guises, which housed a few paintings depicting the assassination of the Duke de Guise, which occured in Blois on 23 December 1588. It is said that the assassination of the Duke de Guise occured in the King’s bedchamber, and that he collapsed at the foot of the King’s bed after being stabbed by eight assassins who were acting on the King’s orders. The Duke de Guise had in fact been planning a coup d’État in order to take over the kingdom.

Painting depicting the assassination of the Duke de Guise.

The King’s bedchamber.

The rest of the château was not particularly interesting, but we did pop in and have a look at the Louis XII wing which housed the fine arts museum, as well as the Saint Calais chapel. however, the view of Blois from the château just outside the Saint Calais chapel was very good!

City of Blois.

L’église Saint Nicolas.

Overall, taking Frommers by Rail’s recommendation, it was a pretty good experience visiting my first château. I did see many pictures of other châteaus in the Loire Valley which looked much nicer, such as Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau, however not all are easily accessible from the train stations, which is the limiting factor. Tomorrow, we plan to head to Château de Chenonceau and Château de Amboise, and hopefully will not suffer from château overkill.

Links to today’s pictures available here.

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