Posts tagged ‘châteaux de chambord’

In the Land of Castles

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.


July 15, 2013 at 9:48 am 14 comments

From The Book Thief

i have hated the words and i have loved them, and i hope i have made them right.

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