Would the construction of so many castles in the Loire valley have been possible without the main «ingredient»: the Loire river, the largest one in France that crosses the country from east to west, and its numerous tributaries ?
That makes the region a very old crossroad of ideas, culture, arts and trade of course since at least the Late Antiquity. St Martin who came from Pannonia in Central Europe started the evangelization of the locals in the 4th century, Theodulf was spanish and in the 8th century was bishop of Orléans, that same city liberated by Joan of Arc 700 years later during the 100 years war.
Most of the castles in the Loire were erected above old feudal defensive fortresses by Kings, wealthy nobles who worked for the governement such as ministers, officers, tycoons…
That is why the castles and their grounds are so impressive, wealthy and manucured.
Your private guide is going to take on a journey to what was the beating heart of France until the late 16th century.
You will leave Paris at 7 am from your accommodation to visit CHAMBORD Castle.
The greatest example of the Renaissance architecture started in 1519 was the will of the King François 1st.
All the aspects of the medieval defensive architecture were used to make a massive jewel in the middle of a huge well livestocked forest.
This unique castle is built around an ornamented core : the famous doule helix staircase, probably designed by Leonardo Da Vinci or inspired by his notes.
Your private guide will lead you in this unique construction through the King’s appartments, The Queen’s appartments, the Parade Appartments, the 18th century Appartments…But in this royal castle whose construction lasted over than 20 years and where the king himself spent 2 months in two decades the real beating heart and place to be is the Roof Terrace. That will be the highlight and the key of your private guided visit.
In Chambord architecture is magic.
Then before an enjoyable lunch break you will have the opportunity to taste (not included) the wines of the Cheverny appellation.
To end this day then you will head to AMBOISE Castle.
Last castle of the Middle Ages and first of the Renaissance it is a perfect example of how a strategic location of a medieval fortress was turned into a pleasant spot with a royal castle and an amazing view.
The two wings left, one Gothic and one Renaissance, are an interesting example of the evolution of the architecture that was more refined from the very early 16th century due to especially the influence of all the italian artists that left Italy to follow the french kings to France during what was called the military campaigns in Italy. The most famous among these artists, who was buried in the castle, is of course Leonardo Da Vinci.
That is also a place where examples were made during the Amboise Conspiracy in 1560 and from 1848 to 1852 when it was a state prison for the Emir Abd El Kader along with 80 other people.
(overnight in Amboise)
You will start this day with VILLANDRY.
During this visit you will enjoy the best example of Renaissance gardens. The construction commissioned by Jean Le Breton, President of the Revenue Court under the king François 1st, took place between 1532 and 1536 again above foundations of 12th century fortress whose keep is still here.
In 1906 Ann Coleman and Doctor Joachim Carvallo bought the place and redesigned the original Renaissance Gardens that will leave you breathless. The gardens works were inspired by the book of Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau, french architect in the 16th century.
The Ornament Garden with all forms of love, The Water Garden, The Sun Garden, The Vegetable Garden with an amazing palette of colors, are an appealing and evocative summary of this place where people were fed, healed, had fun and loved.
Take a moment in that dream!
Then you will head to FONTEVREAUD Abbey
At first in 1101, a small religious community in the “middle of nowhere” was established with an unusual aspect : it was opened to both men and women. Later, the founder of that community Robert D’Arbrissel decided ,not without difficulty, that a woman would be the leader of the Order.
At the end of the 12th century, Fontevreaud owned 100 priories in France, Spain and England. Such fast evolution was also thanks to the financial support of powerful and wealthy noble families. The most pretigious was the Counts of Anjou family called the Plantagenêts. Mathilda of anjou was abbess from 1149 to 1155, when her nephew Henri 2nd Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou and King of England died, Fontevreaud Abbey became a royal necropolis. After the decline of the 13th and 14th centuries there was a new golden age in the 15th century when Fontevreaud was turned into a Royal Abbey. In 1792 the community was ordered by the French Revolution to leave the Abbey grounds. In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte decided to convert this into a state prison that was shut down in 1963.
Fontevreaud is not a castle but a beautiful site, historically eventful where restauration works are perfect, a must see place in the Loire.
To end this day in a perfect way you will have a visit in the cellars of the Vouvray sparkling wines area and of a course some wine tasting.
(overnight in Amboise)
You will start your day with the visit of the Ladies Castle : CHENONCEAU
Probably the most refined castle in the Loire valley, not only thanks to its incredible location over the Cher river, tributary to the Loire river, or the furnitures or the paintings (Primaticcio, Van Loo, Murillo…) or the sculptures (Jean Goujon) or the wealthy and elegant grounds it is also thanks to several unforgettable ladies.
It is named the Ladies Castle because the queen Catherine Di Medici, Diane of Poitiers, Louise Dupin, representative of the age of Enlightenement, were, among others, the soul and the guardian angels of this beautiful place. It is one of the jewel of the Loire valley your private guide will take you to.
After an enjoyable lunch break you will visit Le CLOS LUCE Castle.
This time this is not a king who honored the people by his presence but a common man who honored the king by accepting to go to France in the Loire valley to spend the last 3 years of his life accomodoted in the castle of le Clos Lucé. The tuscan genius Leonardo Da Vinci was invited by the king François 1st to do what he did best dream and conceive and also to have the pleasure to spend some time with this unique artist. He brought with him to settle in France in 1516 three paintings, one was The Mona Lisa.
During this visit you will enter the intimate life of a genius that you will especially appreciate through the models designed according to the plans of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Then you will head back to Paris.
(Entrance fee and tastings except Cheverny included. Meals and accommodation not included).