Castles Europe Travel

Loire Valley – The Valley of the Kings

Written by Ales Maticic

This is a follow up post to article Top place to see castles in Europe – Loire Valley where I already start to present my traveling though this amazing country, with beautiful landscape and numerous breath taking castles.

Allow me to shortly describe our path and cities that we visit while traveling around Loire valley, and getting to know people and their habits and nature. Must say, this was one of my best visiting places, as I am slightly in love with castles.

We start our way from the south part, where the path has initially led us in the historic city of Bourges.  A mighty Cathedral of St. Stephen, from the thirteenth century, it is impossible to ignore.

It’s unbelievable and almost indescribable to say how masterfully are designed inlaid windows and how beautifully decorated are front! No wonder it is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in France and with a surplus of Gothic art.

While we were strolling about, a lively atmosphere attracts us into the medieval quarter where we were very much temped into the home bistro to taste some homemade white wine known under name Sancerre with the famous goat cheese called crottin de chavignol. Oh, how I love those stinky French cheeses. Although that visiting this region had only take us an hour drive away from the metropolis of Paris, we notice that people have been wildly different, friendlier and more welcoming. Maybe this could be due to the past of this place or the mild climate, that effect so much on people’s character.

But, on the other hand, is also generally known, that people from villages and small towns are often more open and easygoing. This pattern we could find around al big cities around the world. Maybe, this is also because here people know how to enjoy life more with less stress.

The landscape is mostly flat surface with intermediate fields of sunflowers, corn and vineyards, which extends across all over, as long as our view goes. It’s actually quite amazing to see this landscape, especially in the spring and summer, when all nature is glowing and bursting.

The monotonous of rural landscape is variegated with white clouds, which are continually changing shape in the blue sky and wild river of Loire, which cuts the winding countryside and winds through the village with the typical dark slate on their roofs.It’s hard to believe that this calm pastoral landscape was once the very own heart of France!

After pleasant refreshment we drove to the town of Blois, which we were recommended by an owner of bistro. He said that this is a best starting point for tours through the valley of the Loire castles. Here is the beginning of a romantic heart of the gentle valleys, who won the French Renaissance kings.

The city boast itself in front of the neighbors the castle, which lies at the heart of the city. This is also quite unusually and rare for cities /towns that have grown beside river Loire. If you decided to do this path by river Loire, and you are not traveling by car, there will be available a range of tourist buses. If you are more sporty type, you will get chance to borrow a bicycles almost everywhere.

In the immediate vicinity of Blois, there are the three most beautiful castles. The largest and most spectacular is castle Chambord which embodies the power of the king Francis I. and Louis XIV. This castle also belongs under the UNESCO cultural heritage sites.

The second most beautiful castle is Chaverny, which is also known as one of the most beautiful castle on the Loire. And the third one is called Chaumont, which is known as one of most romantic castles.

At the tributaries of the river Loire, there are also, not so far away, two beautiful castles. On the small island in the middle of river Indre stands symmetrical Castle Azay-le-Rideau, and over the River Cher raises the gallery of elegant Chenonceau Castle. Through the history, the fate o this castle was created by six women, which is also well reflected in beautiful gardens.

In the valley of Loire have been preserved 300 castles and manors, which are, if we compare them, very different. Some are seen as remnants of military fortifications, others are elegant palaces.

Some of them are populated and well equipped with old furniture, the others are empty, but with beautiful exterior and symmetrical gardens in the style of English rural parks. However, there are too many castled in valley of Loire, to have time to see all of them. So it is necessary, to first to make a careful selection of which castles you would like to see. In the summer castles come alive in attractive performances which are hold outdoors. In the evenings castles evoke stories of palaces in the Son et Lumiere (sound and light) shows.

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Ales Maticic

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