January 4, 2012

Following Leonardo da Vinci's footsteps...

It has been a while....

Over time this blog has evolved as a "resumé" of my adventures in France. It is not a diary since there is no way I can keep up with logging in on a daily basis. However, I hope that a few years down the road - when we will be further expatriated somewhere around the globe - I will read though my Paris blog and wade in fond memories.

In order to show my kids that our adventure is not "just" about Paris but that there is more to France, I decided to take them off on a "tour de force". We only had five days since school started relatively early this year.

We visited the Loire Valley, Brittany and added a quick stop in Normandy. Following are some impressions of our first stop in the Loire Valley.

Chateau de Chambord

The royal Château de Chambord is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures.

Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley. It was built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I, who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and Château d'Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with several doubts, to Domenico da Cortona. Trust the Italians, they are all over the place!

Some authors claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the château's design, and others have suggested that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed it. More Italian influence!!!

The roofscape of Chambord contrasts with the masses of its masonry and has often been compared with the skyline of a town. It shows eleven kinds of towers and three types of chimneys, without symmetry, framed at the corners by the massive towers. The design parallels are - must I repeat- north Italian and Leonardesque.

View onto Chateau d'Amboise from Clos Lucé

Who knew that Leonard da Vinci spent his last years in Amboise?

Clos Lucé is a mansion in Amboise, France, located 500 metres from the royal Château d'Amboise, to which it is connected by an underground passageway. Built by Étienne le Loup in the middle of the fifteenth century, it was acquired in 1490 by Charles VIII of France for his wife, Anne de Bretagne. Later, it was used by Francis I, as well as his sister Marguerite de Navarre, who began writing her book entitled L'Heptaméron while living there.

In 1516, Francis I invited Leonardo da Vinci to Amboise and provided him with the Clos Lucé, then called Château de Cloux, as a place to stay and work.[1] Leonardo, a famous painter and inventor, arrived with three of his paintings, namely the Mona Lisa, Sainte Anne, and Saint Jean Baptiste. Leonardo lived at the Clos Lucé for the last three years of his life, and died there on 2 May 1519.

The village of Amboise

View down the valley with a glimps of our hotel

Grounds of Chateau d'Amboise 

Soaking in the sunshine and enjoying the blue skies

An "Out of Africa" moment

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