Majestic. Imposing. Impressive. There’s no lack of superlatives in the tourists’ minds, who discover the Château de Chambord for the first time. Or the second, because one visit will not be enough to discover all its wonders. Before investing it for another timeless trip, let’s go back a couple of centuries to immerse ourselves in the heart of the history of the largest castles in the Loire.
A symbol of royal power
It was in 1519 that François 1er ordered Chambord to be built, instead of a Blois counts castle erected in the 10th century. The King of France, after Marignan’s military triumph, wished to build a palace to his glory. The Chambord castle is then known as a simple hunting lodge, annex of Blois castle. In 32 years of reign François 1er will remain there just 72 days.
It was not until Louis XIV’s advent that royalty was very involved in the castle once again. Then the west wing, chapel roof, and lower enclosure were completed. Louis XIV will make nine stays in Chambord, often followed by Molière’s troop which will perform two comedy ballets before him, including Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme in 1670.
The Revolution seriously damaged both the castle and its estate: rampage and looting followed one after another at furniture and woodworking auctions. It then became a private residence until French state acquired it in 1930.
A construction under the sign of the Renaissance
Chambord is one of a kind, located in Sologne, 14 kilometers east of the town of Blois and on the Cosson curve. Inspired by the geometric principles of Alberti-defined Renaissance-style architecture, its overall shape-an enclosure with large corner towers-imitates medieval fortified castles. The house is constructed predominantly of white tufa, a soft limestone whose porosity includes frequent renovation projects.
Historians assume that Leonardo da Vinci had made his contribution to the design, built not far away during this time. Anyway, the castle offers numerous wonders: a 156-meter façade, 426 rooms and 77 staircases, 282 chimneys and 800 sculpted capitals rising up to the sky, for a 56-meter high construction. The keep has five habitable floors, each consisting of four square apartments in the round towers, and four others.
Your stay today
Chambord is the only still intact Royal realm. In its more than 50 square kilometer forest park, enclosed by a 32-kilometer-long perimeter wall, you can hear-or even glimpse-the deer ‘s powerful roar in the fall. Vegetable gardens to the vineyard in permaculture, lots of wealth is waiting for you from outside.
Within, the anthology of ornaments is indescribable. The Salle des Chasses, the Salle des Illustres, and the Salle des Rabatteurs deliver numerous styles worthy of the finest Renaissance achievements. Not forgetting the famous Trophies Gallery whose light honors the area around the castle.
The Salle des Carrosses will allow you to admire horse-drawn carriages made for Count of Chambord in 1871 but never used. A saddlery is Hermès ‘s home job. It is also worth noting the King’s house, the Queen’s apartment and the Parade Apartment, jewels inside a castle that never fails to amaze us.
If the chance is offered, do not hesitate to cross the walls of the Château de Chambord for a second. On arrival the mystical aura is felt, special in the nature. Intense and complete immersion is the leap in time: all you need to do is dream of becoming a squire!