Saturday, July 29, 2017

Château de Villandry

If there is one compelling reason why you should visit Château de Villandry, it has to be its Renaissance gardens. Not just one garden but many. In my opinion, even the gardens of Château de Versailles pale in comparison. Château de Villandry is the nearest chateau to Tours but it is still 17km away.

Looking down at the "love garden" from the belvedere. The love garden comprises four squares each depicting a theme of love.

A moat runs around the chateau with ornamental gardens on both sides

There are many vantage points which give breathtaking view and of one of which is on top of the chateau

Garden with geometric patterns formed by low hedges and flower beds

Entering the vegetable garden where real vegetables are grown with flowering plants featuring at corners and fringes

Neat layout of vegetable plots

A refreshing view of lavender garden with water fountain on a hot sunny day

Lavender and chateau - a great combination

A wide-angle view of the lavender garden with the Saint Etienne Church of Villandry (not part of chateau) at the back

Grapevines covered walkway, providing relief from the blazing summer heat

Bunches of green grapes hanging over my head

The Sun Garden

Visitors taking a rest at the belvedere

Box-shaped lime trees like those seen at the back, lined the walking paths

Unobstructed view

Another vantage point

Inside the Chateau

View of the Chateau from the entrance /exit

Towards the farmyard

Friday, July 21, 2017

Château du Clos Lucé

Four hundred metres down the main street from Château d'Amboise is the Château du Clos Lucé. When it was said that Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life (1516-1519) there, I was sold.

King Francis I of France held Leonardo da Vinci in high regard. Leonardo was invited as a guest of the king and bestowed the title - "First painter, architect and engineer". The king offered Château du Clos Lucé to Leonardo as his residence and paid him a princely annual allowance asking only in return for the pleasure of hearing him talk.

It was said that Leonardo lived happily in this residence. Shielded by the affection of the king, Leonardo was free to dream and work, pursuing his various passions like painting, and producing engineering and architecture drawings. He even organized celebratory events.

In the autumn of 1516, after Leonardo accepted the royal invitation at the age of 64, he crossed the Alps with his disciples and brought from Rome, three of his favorite paintings - Mona Lisa, the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist. Today, these three paintings can be viewed at the Louvre Museum.

Château du Clos Lucé - the place where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life

The building facade of red brick and limestone was built in the 15th century

The meeting between Leonardo da Vinci and the Cardinal of Aragon in 1517 was re-created with virtual reality technology

The Renaissance Great Hall was Leonardo da Vinci's reception room. All the furnishings date from the Renaissance period.

The Renaissance Terrace has a cafeteria, souvenir shop and a rose garden

Walking through the rose garden

Mallard ducks make Leonardo's garden their home.

Leonardo's engineering drawings were given life around the garden

Getting ready to ride my bike back. One advice: Don't cycle from Tours to Amboise, take the train instead.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Château d'Amboise

If there is one thing famous about Amboise, it is a place in France where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years as guest of Francois I. His final resting place is in Château d'Amboise.

The royal Château at Amboise was built on elevated ground overseeing River Loire

The Royal Lodge

Street life below the château with more visitors than residents

The terrace outside the Royal Lodge where one can take a leisure stroll

Looking out from the one of the watch towers

The parterre (garden with patterns) at the back of the Royal Lodge

River Loire flows below the château

Nicely-shaped parterre

Lavender-lined path

The single tree to the left is a Lebanese Cedar. The center-right building is the St Hulbert Chapel

The white bust of Leonardo da Vinci marks the original burial site of the Italian Renaissance genius

St Hulbert Chapel is the final burial ground of Leonardo da Vinci after his remains were exhumed and relocated

Château d'Amboise from across River Loire

Sunday, July 16, 2017

파리 탈출

Tours is the largest city of the Loire Valley. By TGV, it takes about an hour and a half to get there from Paris and by the slower TER, two and a half hours. Compare to Paris, the street is less busy and weather cooler. Tours is a good start point for visit to the many royal châteaux and gardens spread over the region.

Palais de Justice located at the city centre

Tram plying the largest city (Tours) of Loire Vally

Hôtel de Ville - Tours

Basilica of St. Martin

The Tower of Clock along the same road as Basilica of St. Martin

The huge imposing St. Gatien's Cathedral

The clock of Tours train station (Gare de Tours)