23 March, 2012

Today's update is brought to you by Vin Blanc... aka the full carafe of white wine I drank with dinner.  :-)  Really, today was a lifestyles of the rich and famous day.  I visited three chateaus.  Each one bigger than the last.  And if anyone is keeping count... number of photos 1094.  Aren't you glad you're reading the blog and don't have to see the rest?

The first, Chateau du Clos Luce, was the home of Leonardo da Vinci in the three years leading up to his death.  He was there on invitation of the French king Francois I.  In exchange for this cozy little place, Leonardo worked on several projects in the area including the double helix staircase we'll see later at Chambord.  Leonardo carried with him the famous painting, Mona Lisa and in France she remained after his death.
Front entrance
Leonardo's bedroom

Secret tunnel the king used to visit Leonardo

Next we handed our lives to our able driver who proceeded to whip through the narrow streets to arrive at Chateau de Chenonceau.  Now if you're looking for a nice little place on a river, this may be the one for you.  It was given by Henry II to his mistress Diane de Poitiers.  She had the chateau expanded across the river.  When Henry died, his widow Catherine de Medici kicked Diane out and made the chateau her own.  After that there were four other ladies who owned it and each left her mark on the building or lands.

Last of all came the large "hunting lodge" known as Chambord.  King Francis I had it built starting in 1519.  This place has 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces and 426 rooms.  Let's just agree that it's big.  Now, I know, it' nothing compared to Versailles yesterday, but consider that in his 32 year reign, Francis I only spent 72 days here and it wasn't even finished.    And remember, it's a HUNTING LODGE! 

So this round trip took about 11 hours.  I had a lovely time with two Australian couples as we kept each other company for the day.  I will say the mini bus tour with a small group is the way to go!

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