Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Loire Valley

Our first class trip was to the Loire Valley. Although there were not any good stories to accompany the trip, there were some memorable places that I saw. On Saturday we visited the chateaus in Blois and Chambord. Blois was the oldest of the chateaus seen. It was interesting for it's history and gave a starting reference point for the history of the others. The exterior was less appealing since is was built over the years and was a less cohesive mismatch of architecture styles.
Chambord is an amazing and huge chateau with clear views of it from all around. The rooftop is one of the best features. It is almost like a medieval playground as seen in the photo above. So many interesting shapes and perspectives that you could walk amongst. I could spend a day taking photographs of that alone.
The interiors of all the chateaus were very medieval. Dark woods, dark spaces, and sparce furnishings. Chambord was different because the rooms were very large. There is also a double helix staircase that was very interesting. The tower at the top of the stair is seen in the photo above.
On Sunday we saw chateaus in Chenonceau and Amboise. Chenonceau had a very interesting exterior, setting, and surrounding area. It is the chateau built over a river as seen in the pictures above and below. I didn't find the interior very special, and although the gardens were very well done and maintained, they paled in comparison to Versailles. The most interesting aspect was the views of the chateau from across the river. We were fortunate to have absolutely no wind, so the River Cher was a mirror and made for some great photos.
In Amboise, I skipped the chateau in order to go see Leonardo da Vinci's residence Clos Lucé. I had heard the chateau was nothing special and I was a little chateau'ed out. The Studio of Leonardo da Vinci and the walk up the winding road up to it were very nice. It was my first introduction to his works and I found it quite intriguing.

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