Chambord and Cheverny! Starting with Chambord :)
Chambord is massive, impressive, huge, and awesome with French Renaissance architecture. It was mostly built by François I in 1519, but only the middle part! The front line of building connecting to François's creation was done by Henri II and the rest of the square was completed by Louis XIV. Because construction began so early, the center part was designed to be a fortress and as time went on, the architecture evolved into a more Italian renaissance design.
The Italian design is evident in the stone work of Chambord. In France, limestone was the most prevalent stone, especially in the Loire Valley, thus it was used in constructing most of the buildings in the area. If you notice, there is also a lot of black stone work, made from slate. This was done so that at a distance the stone would resemble the Italian buildings made from marble.
(The above picture the the tower at the very center of the François fortress topping the huge circular staircase)
Interesting fact: The slate is not inlaid in the limestone but is tacked on top of it! If you take a closer look at the above photo you can see the tacks up close, but higher up the tower, you can't - as soon as you have a little distance, they're invisible!)
The interior is gorgeous (it is a castle) but with "new art" because François I was an avid art collector. There are beautiful paintings, tapestries, chandeliers, windows, taxidermist-ified animals (hunting was the popular past time for men) and sculptures throughout the house.
These windows are from the indoor chapel, the room glowed in oranges because of the stained glass.
A loom! I can't imagine having the patience to do that...
So, I've saved one of the most defining features of Chambord for last - the circular staircase that goes through the very center of the castle. unlike most staircases, this is 2 sets that circle around a tunnel, each set starting at opposite sides. This means that if people are on different staircases, not only can they walk top to bottom of the castle at the same time without ever meeting, they will never even see each other!
Thus endith Chambord.
Cheverny is a completely different style from all the other castles we've seen thus far because this one was designed to actually be a home. It was built from 1624-1630 and has been in the hands of many families, but has been with the current family (yes, they still live there - Family of 5, two little girls and a little boy) since 1824 (though they had owned it before 1802 as well, darn that revolution!)
Fun fact: The home of Tintin was designed after Cheverny! They just removed the end portions.
This is the view of the house from behind the main entrance, in the garden. It is one of the most perfectly symmetrical castles ever built. (And we seem to have the best luck with weather when visiting castles)
The stairs were done in, of course, limestone, and the carvings were truly spectacular.
The lady's tea room was adorable. Everything was in greens, peaches, and whites. Everything felt more modern luxury and far more "home-y" than the other castles. I think it was that the walls were plastered and painted, but also because the ceilings were far lower than in the other castles.
This was the lady's bedroom - satins are beautiful! Even the children's room looked like this, but that room also had a HUGE brass bathtub.
This castle is also home to a pack of around seventy dogs, that still live there and go hunting weekly! They are beautiful animals and were having fun play-fighting with each other when we saw them.
The last part of Cheverny that we saw were the small gardens, there are a few throughout the grounds. My favorite part were the rows of broken up colored glass throughout to separate the sections. Beautiful!
Whooo! I love castles, and so far, Cheverny is my favorite. Plus if I wait 20 years, I could maybe marry the currently 7 year old boy that lives there and move in!
Here's to hoping :)