In the Land of Castles

July 15, 2013 at 9:48 am 14 comments



Location: Treigny, France
 
France is a land of castles. Ownership of one can be a source of pride, but it can also be financially draining. To help defray the cost of maintenance, many private owners have opened them to the public in order to qualify for government subsidy. In a recent tour of France, I had the opportunity to visit several medieval castles and even dined and slept in one.

From Paris, our tour group drove to Treigny in North-Central France to visit the Château de Guédelon. It’s a castle under construction using 13th-century techniques and materials.

It was about a three-hour trip and our French guide tried to keep us from getting bored by telling interesting tidbits about his country.

There are 2 million people living in Paris and 10 million in the surrounding suburbs. That’s roughly 20% of country’s total population of 64 million.

It has 36,000 villages in 95 counties spread over 22 regions.

The school system is very academic and strict. Spoon-feeding is the norm.

Its citizens have become more open-minded. Learning English or any other language is no longer considered a sacrilege.

No trucks allowed on national highways on Sundays and public holidays.



 

Fields of yellow flowers seen from the highway are not mustard but canola. France import mustard from Canada because it’s cheaper.

It was kind of shortsighted for France to destroy railroads in the past to build highways for cars. Realizing its mistake, it’s now rebuilding railways.

In France, you identify the wine based on what region it comes from. In the States, you do it based on the type of grape used to make it.

Nuclear power is the main source of energy accounting for 75% of its electricity needs.

Upon arrival at the Château de Guédelon, it felt like being transported into a 13th-century movie set. The workers themselves could be seen attired in accordance with the fashions of the period. The site has already become a popular tourist destination attracting 300,000 visitors a year. When we were there, the Lonely Planet people were making photo shoots.

After spending a few hours inspecting the facilities and the progress of the construction work, we thought we had enough. We boarded the bus and headed to picturesque Loire Valley where we stayed for three days and three nights.

In the Loire Valley, we went on a walking tour of the City of Bourges and visited its famous St. Etienne Cathedral to view its stained windows depicting biblical stories dating back from the 13th century.

We visited the Châteaux de Chambord considered to be the largest castle in the Loire Valley. it’s 515 feet long, 383 feet wide, and 183 feet tall. it’s said to contain 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces, and 426 rooms, but i lost count after a while. it was built by king francis i in the 16th century, primarily as a hunting lodge fit to accommodate a small army.


We visited the Château de Chenonceau built in 11th century. the castle is well preserved, its interior rooms fully furnished and decorated as in the old days of royalty.

Finally, we visited the Château de la Bourdaisière (16th century) which was built by King Francis I for his mistress, Marie Gaudin. It later became the residence of Gabrielle d’ Estrées, the mistress of King Henry IV. Over the years, its ownership changed hands among people eager to have a piece of history. It had since been converted into a hotel allowing the public to enjoy its amenities. It was great having dinner and staying there for one night feeling like royalty without fear of being thrown into the Bastille and losing your head.

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i heart paris A Pinch of Me

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. San Francisco | Vivir, que no es poco  |  July 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    […] in the land of castles | Musings of a Random Mind […]

    Reply
  • 2. London Caller  |  July 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Such a lovely place!
    I would like to visit this place one day.

    Reply
  • 3. Wandering Far from Home | Tommia's Tablet  |  July 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    […] in the land of castles | Musings of a Random Mind […]

    Reply
  • 4. Alla Francois  |  July 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Wonderful. Just like what I see on films. Wish I could go with you.

    Reply
    • 5. plaridel  |  July 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      alla:

      who knows? it’s a small world. 🙂

      Reply
  • 6. Julian C. Warren  |  July 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Tours The historic and administrative capital of the region, dating back to the 4th century, is famous for its Cathedral and Archbishop’s palace. Today it is a modern bustling University town with excellent shopping and transport systems.

    Reply
  • […] in the land of castles (plaridel.wordpress.com) […]

    Reply
  • […] in the land of castles […]

    Reply
  • 9. Agnes Avila  |  July 20, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Tours At the junction of the Loire and Cher Rivers, Tours is a busy university town and the traditional point of departure for exploring the Loire Valley. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the great pilgrimage sites of Europe. Today, the city boasts wonderful Renaissance and neo-classical mansions, which are clustered around the famous Plumereau square, fine museums including a collection of craftsmen’s masterpieces and the Cathedral of St-Gatien. Famous wine region, especially Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgueil… The most interesting sites in the Surrounding area are the châteaux of Azay-Ie-Rideau, which reflects on the river, Villandry, surrounded by Renaissance gardens, Ussé, said to be the original Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Langeais and Loches, as well as the splendid medieval city of Chinon.

    Reply
  • 10. kellygurl  |  July 20, 2013 at 7:04 am

    kakainggit! holy crap.. and so i thought blogging is dead. But you guys are still here!!

    I miss stopping by here.

    Reply
    • 11. plaridel  |  July 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Kelly:

      welcome back! we miss you.

      Reply
  • 12. Justine N. Osborn  |  July 21, 2013 at 1:41 am

    The château dominates the pretty riverside city of Blois, overlooking the Loire Valley. In the 16th century, six kings of France stayed here and each of them left their mark on the architecture and history of Blois which was as bloody and treacherous as you could want.

    Reply
  • 13. krn  |  July 21, 2013 at 3:36 am

    Wow. Looks like a dream land.

    Reply
    • 14. plaridel  |  July 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      krn:

      you said it right. now, i’m back to reality. 🙂

      Reply

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