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The Loire Valley Itinerary

Day 6

Chateau Chambord - The Highlight of the Week

Spectacular photo of Château Chambord, Loire Valley, © LDS-Chambord

We set off along the Cher valley, returning through Bourré on our way. After lunch we pass Château Cheverny, not one of the most striking of the château, but it boasts the most complete interior of all the Loire châteaux, and will be better known to Tintin fans as Marlinspike Hall, ancestral home of Captain Haddock.

Cheverny lies in the Cour Cheverny appellation where red wine is made from the Romarantin grape, which is unique to this appellation. Not classic wine, but something so unique should be tried and there are good local producers such as François Gazin and Domaine Tessier where we can visit for a tasting.

The end of today is my favourite part of the whole week, the enormous Château Chambord. This is by far the largest of all the Loire château and was originally built by Francois 1 as a hunting lodge. It lies inside a huge park contained by the largest wall in France, all 32 km of it, and the only other building is our hotel, the Hotel de Grand St Michel, situated right next to the château.

The whole setting is fantastic. The park is a hunting reserve, and there are observation platforms that allow the early riser to watch deer and wild boar feeding.

The château itself contains a famous double-helix staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci, where two people can ascend or descend at the same time without meeting. For lovers of gourmet food, the speciality is wild boar caught on the state.

As befits such a beautiful place, the son et lumière at Chambord is breathtaking. In July and August we can wander round the château after dinner with lanterns and witness spectacular laser shows, projections and music and performance displays.

Some of these, in true French style, border on the bizarre, but if you have ever seen a 150 foot red and white salamander (the symbol of Francois I) moving across the gardens of the château, it tends to stick in the memory.

Click this link for Day 6 route map on mapometer.

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