Friday 31st October
This was one of the quietest aires we have ever been to, it could have quieter though. At about 9.30pm we could hear a knocking and banging outside the door, we are miles away from anything so it must have been an animal taking an interest, maybe a wolf or bear. I blew the horn, switched the lights on and everything went back to being very peaceful until 3am when there was more knocking and snuffling, I kicked Lucy, she turned over and it all went quiete again. It was nearly 9am before we woke up and realised the time. Still no one about so after breakfast we toddled off having had another free night.
We were on our way to our last chateau of our trip, Chenonceau, which Lucy has seen in a movie and really wanted to go and see. It’s blowing our budget massively but we may never pass this way again and the previous two chateaus have been worth the visit.
You’re not getting the full history lesson today but heres a starter. The tower shown above is one corner of a very old defensive castle which has been revamped to suit the Italian renaissance style that you’ve seen in the previous two chateau.
The castle that was removed has left a flat square courtyard and the chateau itself was built on the site of the old mill at the rear. The courtyard is surrounded by a deep moat and the chateau is built on the ergo of the River Cher. It was originally four large rooms per floor with a chapel (the round bit) to the left and a study beyond it. Amazingly it also has the first staircase with straight flights built internally.
At a later date one of the occupants had a bridge built across the Cher so that more gardens could be planted on the other side of the river. Catherine de’Medici had the two floors added to the bridge to give more room for entertaining visitors from the Royal Courts.
During the Second World War the River Cher was the limit of German occupation in the war which meant that the southern end of the bridge was in unoccupied France. The French resistance managed to smuggle hundreds of people over the bridge whilst the Germans were looking the other way! The Germans had a garrison in the Chateau with orders to blow the bridge if necessary.
This is the guards room, just inside the front entrance. Again, it was lovely to see real fireplaces with real fires in them.
This is Diane de Poitiers bedroom, she was King Henri II’s favourite lady and he donated Chenonceau to her. In 1559 on Henri’s death it was given to Catherine de Medici, Henri’s widow. The floors were highly polished red clay tiles and they looked fantastic, thinking about putting them in Frankie.
This is Diane de Poitier’s fireplace with a painting of Catherine de Medici hanging over it, obviously not while it was Dianes’ bedroom.
This is the first floor of the gallery over the bridge. Chenonceau was becoming more important on the Royal social scene and needed space to house and entertain the Royal Court. This would have been the ballroom whilst the floor above was divided into rooms. During the First World War this room was used as a hospital and one the first X-ray machines was located in Dianes bedroom.
This is the range in one of the kitchen rooms. The kitchens were divided into pantry, butchery, larder, etc because they were situated between the arches in the river. Boats could tie up and unload their cargoes straight into the pantry.
The main entry hall had a lovely vaulted roof and the rib vaults are offset to each other making the keys themselves offset. Built in 1515 this is one of the most remarkable examples of decorative sculpture from the First French Renaissance.
Catherine de’Medici, herself a queen had two daughters, both Queens and three daughter in laws who were also Queens and this room celebrates that fact by incorporating all five queens coats of arms in the ceiling. Note that if the walls aren’t covered by tapestries it’s because they are stuffed full of paintings by artists such as Rubens, Tintoretto, Van Dyck, Poussin, Van Loo, Netscher and Corregio. They’re the ones I’ve heard of before, the list of other artists just goes on and on.
Every room had large displays of real flowers and a lot of attention had gone into ensuring all the details were correct, it was well worth the entry fees.
We had lunch in the car park, after spending four hours in the Chateau and made our way to this evenings stop in Montressor (Number 44, centre) which can take 35 units. We filled up with water from the service pump for free and joined the only other motorhome in this basketball pitch.
We had a stroll into town and noticed the Chateau de Montressor and by the time we had got to the entrance and seen how much it was to get in it was too late to turn back without causing an international incident.
It was no classic French Chateau and it was difficult to get a decent photo since there were a lot of trees in the way but we had a pleasant stroll around the home and outer defensive walls. Origanlly built in about 1000 ad and added to here and there it is still primarily a defensive position.
The last owner of any significance was a very keen hunter and his trophies hang on every wall, every thing was looking a little bit tired and could do with a huge injection of cash.
Here we are in tonights aire, the building to the right is part of the Chateau de Montressor.
This is our clock / weather station when we got back into the van. 27.1 in the shade and it’s 31st October! All hallows night. We have the local village hall right next to us and at 6pm the witches and ghouls started turning up and trying to scare each other. We’ve had three visits so far from trick or treaters and we weren’t very prepared for it. All we had was a tin of travel sweets so the first group got a handful of them and for some strange reason they expected me to sing to them!! Frere Jacques, Sur la Pont and Ca Plan pour Moi are the only three French songs I can sing to children and they made a quick exit. The second group got the rest of the tin but knew not to ask me to sing for them and the third lot were very nice when I think I explained to them that the first lot got all my sweets.