The Loire Valley - Chateau de Chambord

days out in France - Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley

The Royal Chateau at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher in the Loire Valley, is well worth a visit. Steeped in history it's one of the most recognizable chateaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture that a blend of traditional medieval and classical Italian.

On the 1st of June each year the spectacular Journees Nationales de la Chasse et de la Peche or Game fair is held. There are restaurants & gift shops both inside the castle and in the grounds.

It is also the largest castle in the Loire Valley, but was built to serve only as a hunting lodge for King Francois I who maintained his royal residences at Chateau de Blois and at Chateau d'Amboise. The original design of the Chateau de Chambord was by Domenico da Cortona, but was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction. Leonardo da Vinci, a guest of King Francois at Clos Luce near Amboise, is believed to have been involved in the original design. Nearing completion, King Francois showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old enemy, Emperor Charles V.

The massive castle features 6 immense towers, 440 rooms, and an amazing 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Four rectangular vaulted hallways on each floor form a cross-shape, meeting in the center. One of the architectural highlights, and very popular with the general public, is the spectacular double-helix open staircase where people can ascend and descend at the same time without ever meeting - ideal when you're not speaking!

The castle is surrounded by a 52.5‑km wooded park and game reserve filled with Red Deer enclosed by a 31‑kilometre wall.

For more than eighty years after the death of King Francois, French kings all but abandoned the castle, allowing it to fall into decay. Finally, in 1639 King Louis XIII gave it to his brother Gaston d'Orleans who saved the castle from ruin by carrying out much restoration work. King Louis XIV had the great donjon restored and furnished the royal apartments. The king then added a 300 horse stable enabling him to use the castle as a hunting lodge and a place to entertain such notables as Moliere for a few weeks each year. Nonetheless, Louis XIV abandoned the castle in 1685.

From 1725 to 1733, Stanislas I, the deposed king of Poland and father-in-law of King Louis XV lived at Chambord. In 1745, as a reward for his fighting valor the king gave the castle to Maurice de Saxe, Marshal of France who installed his military regiment there. Maurice de Saxe died in 1750 and once again the colossal castle sat empty for many years.

In 1792, the Revolutionary government ordered the sale of the furnishings and the empty castle was left abandoned until Napoleon Bonaparte gave the castle to French military leader Louis Alexander Berthier whose widow sold it to the Duke of Bordeaux, who then took the title Comte de Chambord. A brief attempt at restoration and occupation was made by King Charles X (1824-1830) but little was done and during the Franco-Prussian War, (1870-1871) the castle was used as a field hospital.

The final attempt to make use of the colossus came from the Comte de Chambord and his offspring but after the Comte died in 1883, the castle was left to the Ducal family of Parma, Italy. Any attempts at restoration ended with the onset of World War I in 1914. The castle became the property of the Government of France in 1930 but restoration work was not begun until a few years after World War II ended in 1945.

Today, it is a major tourist attraction.

Opening Times

April 1st to September 30th: 9 am - 6:15 pm
October 1st to March 31st: 9 am - 5:15 pm
Closed: May 1st, December 25, January 1st.

Getting There:

From Paris (north) : motorway A 10 towards Blois, exit no 16 towards Mer, then secondary road D 112 to Chambord.
From Tours (south) : motorway A 10, exit no 17 towards Blois, then secondary road D 33 to Chambord

For more information:
Domaine national de Chambord
Vieux chemin de la chaussee
41250 Chambord

Tel.: +00 33 (0) 2 54 50 40 00
Fax: +00 33 (0) 2 54 20 34 69

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The Loire Valley - Chateau de Chambord
The Royal Chateau at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher in the Loire Valley, is well worth a visit. Steeped in history it's one of the most recognizable chateaux in the world because of...

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