Once referred to as either the Loire Valley: the heart of France, the seat of its true spirit, its decoration and the cradle of glory. Without exaggeration, no coquetry, avoiding historical errors, every statement has any factual evidence. After all, on the banks of this river, not far from the biggest in France, it began the history of the greatness of the French kingdom. It is here, not in Paris as one might think, is not just the fate of the state. It prints its shores remember the steps of representatives of all the royal dynasties of France. These scenic spots have witnessed the bloody battles of the Virgin of Orleans, the last years of life of Leonardo da Vinci, the great love of Henry II and Diane de Poitiers, the first woman to voice canons of true beauty.
It thins the fabric of time and history ceases to be a set of dry dates and transfers of significant events. She materializes, it becomes tangible and easy to understand, one has only to see the location of all over the chateaux of the Loire River. Safe guards, silent witnesses of heroism, glory, falling, sacrifice and betrayal. Every castle in the Loire has its own history, one way or another associated with women. Anne of Brittany, Jeanne d'Arc, Catherine de Medici, Margaret of Navarre and Anne of Austria ... Familiar names, is not it? Who of us in childhood do not read novels of Dumas; but if you visited the idea that you can actually see the parks, which roamed the heroes and heroines of novels, or settle for the night in one of the nearby chateau where intrigue and trailed inconceivable to decide the fate of entire nations?
If you decide to make a trip into the past of the great France, it is better to do it yourself. Especially that runs along the Loire cycling route "the Loire by bike." 120 km of smooth roads, designed for cyclists. Getting lost, even though the route runs through a small woods, impossible. Pointers to the name of the area where you are right now, here at every step. A night in the roof of a small château, maybe not such a grand and majestic as the first castle, which will meet on the road to Blois, will provide an opportunity to feel like a time traveler. So, with the inherent charm of French women, you can go on a journey along the Boulevard of Kings!
Jeanne, Anna and Catherine
We are not in vain mentioned that women have played in the history of France a huge role. And in the castle of King Louis XII of the reformer and the famous cathedral of Blois you will find confirmation of this. There Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc was blessed, going into battle against the British. Immediately funeral of Catherine de Medici - the greatest intriguer, started a St. Bartholomew's night, just to get rid of Henry of Navarre, the husband of his daughter.
Blois The castle - the residence of the great Anne of Brittany, which is a small thing that has managed to become the wife of two kings, Charles and Louis, but also had a reputation for shrewd politician and the richest woman in Europe. Not bad for 15 centuries, is not it? By the way, thanks to Anna girls wear on your wedding day white dress. Queen of France, was the first who dared to dress in mourning at the time of color.
But let's look at ourselves the Chateau de Blois. To paraphrase the King of Navarre, Blois worth a mass. No wonder that the castle is chosen as the residence of the King just two reformer, Francis I and Louis XII. Chateau de Blois began to build as a fortification that can protect the whole city and keep the enemy in the event of a siege, and finished as the country estate. For four centuries, it is attached to all new parts. His contribution to the construction of Blois made by such great masters as Benvenuto Cellini, Andrea dal Sarto. Castle, whose walls touched the hand of genius, is striking.
Huge fireplaces, carved beams and balustrades, secret rooms, cornices, carved entwined with vines. After wandering through the corridors of the castle, you can explore the architecture of the French Renaissance. And maybe meet in the office of poisons ghost of Catherine de Medici and Henry Guise murdered here. But if you have decided to continue to explore the castles of the Loire yourself, then you have time off, in the Chateau de Chambord.
And the king hunt hunting
Oh, those kings, which only they may invent to deceive their wives and thus comply with the etiquette! Chambord Castle owes its appearance to the lover Francis the First. To be closer to his lover, the Countess Turi, he ordered the construction of Chambord in the early 16th century. But Francis, like all kings, not accustomed to small things, and instead of a hunting lodge built a beautiful castle, which to this day is considered the pearl of the Renaissance.
It turned out rather big gem! At the time, Margaret of Navarre, being in the castle, complained that wander the corridors and stairways of the castle takes her a lot of time every day. A couple of times she even lost in the maze of rooms. The park of the hunting huts can fit half of Paris. It is here clearly felt that the Kings are doing everything in a big way. What ended the love story of Francis, we do not know. But before he descended justified, giving the world a masterpiece of castle architecture. Even after centuries of looking at the Loire Valley from the heights of the castle garden, there is a desire to write a couple of poems as a tribute to the beauty and grandeur.
Age - not a problem, the main thing to be a blonde
I would like once again to warn those who are going to make a separate trip to the castles of the Loire Valley: stay away from organized tours. They will not let you enjoy the beauty appeared in front of you. In any of the locks can be paid caretaker for an individual tour, and instead memorized texts get a real story, in which the story will come to life for you. The schedule of the trip you will be able to make in accordance with their own biorhythms.
But that's not all the benefits. Around the major tourist destinations and a lot of castles inconspicuous small chateau with an equally rich history. On the road from Chambord to Chenonceau is unremarkable at first glance, the castle - Chateau de Frileuse. But this is only at first glance. This woman is simply obliged to visit here! After all, the owner of the castle - a real perfumer. His ancestors were fragrances for ladies of the court. For a relatively small amount you can afford to bring home the flavor, which was used at the time Queen Margot or Diane de Poitiers.
By the way, Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, and was the first owner of the castle ladies -Shenonso. Henry was crazy witty lovely blonde, despite the fact that she was 19 years older than him. So his wife, Catherine de Medici, had clenched his teeth to endure "the aged" hussy and Erect with rival sent to the castle pond to feed the black swans. After that, it becomes clear why Catherine was the poisoner. But it would not be the Medici, if not after the death of Henry played at Diana and took away her castle. And Diane de Poitiers has sunk into obscurity. Apparently, in an attempt to get rid of all traces of the rival, Catherine began his perestroika. Thanks to her efforts, the Castle of Chenonceau became the biggest French castle, built in the Renaissance style.
Another feature of this castle is that it has always belonged to women. No man is listed in the documents as the owner. And another interesting detail. No matter how much time has passed, how many mind-blowing intrigues weaved under the roof of the castle as romantic tragedy took its secret corners, but none of them ended in murder. So, if you do not like the bloody stories, stay in Chenonceau.
Cabbages and Kings
At first glance, it is quite strange series of logical castles - Loire - kings - cabbage. But only at first glance. As soon as you enter the Chateau de Villandry, every word is filled with meaning for you ... and beauty. But it is better to start from the beginning. With that Villandry - the last castle built in the style of Rennesans. It seems that nothing special in him. Yes, a beautiful castle. But after Shensono beauties of Blois and you will be hard to surprise. Entrance to the castle and ... lose the power of speech. The interiors of the castle, pilasters, Arabic ceiling, consisting of more than three thousand pieces. But that's not all, you come to expect a real miracle - three-level gardens of Villandry.
The first - a mirror pond, fountains, old lemon trees, trimmed boxwood shrubs. That's where you see all the beauty of nature! Even if it is brought to perfection by human genius. The water garden is not hurt the eyes, it does not cause rejection. You can walk along the linden alley or get lost in the maze of green.
Garden of love, a garden of medicinal plants, garden passion. Do you think it's just a name? Nothing like this. You can go from garden to garden and admire the beautiful, almost mathematically verified beds and clipped shrubs on a single pattern. In each of these gardens, you realize how poor your tongue as insignificant words. They pale in front of this beauty. Bright colors, shapes and ... the right mood. It accompanies you all the time while you are in the gardens of Villandry. This is where you can feel like a queen. No, why waste time on trifles? Goddess Flora!
Well, we got to the royal cabbage. You can imagine what the garden, something that is associated in our minds with the suburban six acres, can be brought to the level of landscape art? So, on the lower level gardens of Villandry, you can see it with my own eyes. And understand that the eggplant on the bush we can say, using such epithets as beautiful or inspiring. A vegetable garden called this incredible vegetable mosaic of language does not turn. Sitting in one of the pavilions of the garden, I want to stay there forever. However, there is the risk of dying of hunger, because encroach on such beauty for the sake of banal saturation hand does not rise.
Sleeping Beauty Castle
One look at the castle Ussé inspired great storyteller Charles Perrault out to write the story of Sleeping Beauty. Refined, all the buildings in the Gothic style. If you look at the castle from a distance, it can feel like the heroine of a fairy tale. To complete the picture lacks only flew over the peaked roofs of the castle Ussé banners. And the heralds with copper pipes, beckoning everyone to see the beautiful royal child.
But it is fixable. As soon as you get into the castle, you'll get a real fairy tale. Especially for lovers of fairy tales in the castle there is an exposition of wax figures made based on Perrault's fairy tales. Complement the feeling of a collection of Flemish tapestries and weapons. By the way, another interesting feature of the castle - it has the history of its existence has never stopped any of the kings, despite the fact that the quarters for the royal ladies were always prepared. What happened, and why none of the king did not dare to step into a fairy tale, to say now is difficult. But to visit the Sleeping Beauty Castle stands. Especially that the name of one of its owners will seem vaguely familiar - d'Epinay. And for a long time you will be plagued by vague memories of books read in childhood, does not emerge until the name of Count of Monte Cristo.
It is said that once visited France, you will remember it with nostalgia for a year. One day after visiting Paris, you will realize that were not born in that city. And one day visiting the castles of the Loire, you will feel how easy it is to make a move from the present to the past. And you will come back here whenever possible. Fortunately, three hundred castles that are located in the famous valley of the river, more than enough to not one but a dozen fascinating journeys.