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Another day, another chateau

Thursday 30th October

We had a look round the town of Azay le Rideau last night and we managed to stop at a bar for a quick drink. The town has become a bit “grockely” (is that a word) due to the high numbers of tourists visiting every year (400,000 last year) but it still managed to retain a village feel with a number of shops that were there just for the locals, not the tourists.

It rained in the night and then some more after we got up but by 10 o’clock when the Chateau opened the rain had lifted and we were set for another lovely day.

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Le Chateau D’Azay le Rideau was built in 1510 by Gilles Berthelot on the site of a fortress. The original plan was for a building twice the size but it was constructed on an island and the foundations proved to be harder to construct than first thought. Berthelots relative, Semblancay was accused of embezzlement and Berthelot fled allowing King Francois I to confiscate the castle and then give it to Antoine Raffin. The castle stayed in the Raffin family until the French Revolution after which the Marquis de Biencourt bought the place and restored it to its former glory.

The French state acquired the building in 1905 and have just got round to restoring the building helped out by a €15,000,000 grant from the EU. The gardens are currently being restored and are closed to the public, but the chateau itself is open.

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Heavy Italian influences can be seen everywhere.

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This is the outside view of the staircase. It is the first staircase in france to be constructed internally, most tower structures on the outside of the building, and it was noted for its straight, rather than spiral, flights.

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The steeply sloping roofs were supported by huge oak beams. The main rafters are 11m long. A rare breed of bats live in the roof, I think it was something like mouse nosed bat. As in England, all bats are a protected species and must not be disturbed.

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This chamber was probably that of Phillippe Lesbahy, wife of Gilles Berthelot. Note the length of the bed, no good for me and too short for Lucy for that matter. All the walls were hung with rush matting which gave off a lovely smell.

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This is an arty shot for Dagenham Camera Club, there must be a competition I could enter this in. I didn’t get to take many photos inside the building but they were all very sumptuous.

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I’ve been asked to add in a map of our travels so far. Total mileage is 600 miles and we are currently south east of Tours at an aire at Le Liege (Number 43, Centre). The guide warns that it is a bit rustic but we’ve got lovely views. It should be €2 per night but no one has been to see us and there are no signs to be seen anywhere. It is only that the view is exactly the same view as the photo in the Aires book that we are staying here.

On the way to the Aire we decided to refill with diesel, yet again my Visa card wouldn’t work in the machine but Lucy’s Mastercard did. Strange that they accept one sort of card but not another, could it be that my card is a debit card and Lucy’s is a credit card?

Tomorrow we are heading up north a little bit and then resuming our journey south.

3 thoughts on “Another day, another chateau

  1. Denzil

    Hi Markie and Loo

    Once again a really interesting blog and photographs. I think some of these buildings actually look better in photos than they do in real life.

    I may have told you of a Grand Designs programme which featured an English couple who bought a derelict building in France and restored it, and have created a really nice Gite. It started life as a chateau and was used during the war by the resistance and to hide refugees until the Gestapo burnt it down. It laid neglected until the English couple bought it and did most of the work themselves.

    The female part of the couple is the daughter of my cousin, Walter Sweetlove (who died about 3 years ago)

    I don’t have the address of the Gite but if you would be interested I can get it and pass it on, Let me know if it would be of interest to you.

    Meanwhile – keep travelling- keep well – keep sending blogs



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