jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 39 [9 Mar 09] – Tours

Posted in Tours by jn82 on March 9, 2009

Today was château day number two, and given that we were only in the Loire Valley for one more day, we tried to see as much as possible. In the morning, we took 9.04am Corail Intercites 14052 from Tours to Amboise, and after a short walk, were at Château Royal d’Amboise. This château had only been given a two star rating by Frommers by Rail (as opposed to the maximum three stars), but the train schedule to and from it fit with our château maximisation plans.

Château Royal d’Amboise.

The château is very beautiful, but I only have time to list the main areas here. Outside of the château on the terraces lies St Hubert’s Chapel, dedicated to the patron sait of hunting. This chapel is best known for being the site of Leonardo da Vinci’s grave.

The supposed grave of Leonardo da Vinci.

The exteriors of the château’s two main wings are a transition of the French late-Gothic style as seen in the Charles VIII Wing to the Italianate Renaissance style of Louis XII-François I Wing.

Gothic roof window (left) and Renaissance roof window (right).

The rooms within the gothic wing are not particularly interesting as compared to those in the renaissance rooms. Below are a few examples of the renaissance rooms. I would love to talk more about the rooms but if I do then I will get no sleep tonight and this blog post will be way too long, also I am pretty sure you do not want to keep reading about who killed who or did what where. The main interesting point is that Charles VIII, who was born in the château in 1470 and lived there with his Queen, died on 7 April 1498 after bumping his head on a door frame after watching a game of real tennis.

The cupbearer’s room.

King Henri II’s chamber.

The music room.

Apart from the château, the view of the Loire from it is also pretty good.

The Loire.

Château Royal d’Amboise from the opposide bank of the Loire.

After a quick and not that fantastic overpriced lunch in Amboise, we got on Corail Intercites 14041 back to Tours from 1.05pm – 1.23pm. At Tours, we got on the ten 60812 from 1.31pm – 1.55pm to Chenonceaux, out afternoon château destination. This was out first time on the newer (than Corail Intercites) inter-city ter (Transport Express Regional) trains, and while they did feel more modern, the first class carriage seats were smaller in width in a 2×2 configuration and could not recline. The train to Chenonceaux this afternoon had only two carriages, and looked more like a light rail train.

ter 60812.

First class carriage.

Upon arriving in Chenonceaux, the Château de Chenonceau was only a five minute walk away.

Château de Chenonceau.

It is one of the most beautiful château’s in the Loire, and has a three star rating from Frommers by Rail. It is not hard to see why, especially with its large gardens and the fact that one part of the château (the gallery) spans across the Cher river, much like the Uffizi does in Florence. There is no coincidence here, as its one time owner Catherine de Médicis was from Italy.

Across Le Cher.

This château has a very interesting ownership history in that it was given by the French King Henri II to his mistress (20 years his senior!) Diane de Poitiers in 1547. In 1559, when Henri II was killed in single combat during a tournement, his widow and queen, Catherine de Médicis, ordered Diane to give Chenonceau back to her, and gave Diane the château of Chaumont-sur-Loire in exchange.

Again, I will just highlight some of the more interesting rooms in the château.

Dianne de Poitiers’ Bedroom.

Dining room, reserved for the staff.

François I Bedroom.

Louis XIV Living Room.

Catherine de Médicis’ Bedroom.

Louise of Lorriane’s Bedroom.

We finished with the château long before the train was scheduled to arrive, and just walked around the gardens for a bit. The train back was on the ter 60725, but this time the first class cabin had a different layout. We managed to get two “Club 4” seats to ourselves in a private compartment of the first class carriage right behind the driver’s compartment (right behind the divider in the picture below), which was very nice and peaceful.

First class carriage layout.

The past three days in Tours, with two spent exploring the châteaus of the Loire, have probably been the highlight of the trip so far. It is not hard to understand why the entire Loire Valley of around 200km is a UNESCO recognised World Heritate Site. I would recommend anyone to take a couple of days in Bordeaux and then a train up to Tours to see the Loire Valley. Off to Paris tomorrow!

Today’s pictures available here.


One Response

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  1. gail said, on March 10, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    very nice pics… so lucky !!!

    take care in gay paris! 😀

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