When I was a kid, my favorite fairytale was La Belle au bois dormant – “Sleeping Beauty” by Charles Perrault. At home we had a projector and when my favorite cousins came to visit, our parents organized a small home theater. Unfortunately or not, we just had one story on tape. So every time even though I knew exactly what would happen, I felt awe to the high towers and dark corridors of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Her luscious bed with feather pillows and a gorgeous baldachin made me dream about the life of a princess. I think the history did not matter so much to me as the environment presented in the story. An unreal, fantasy world, which was so far from my socialist real world. Years later, I found this unreal world in the real one – when I visited the Chambord Castle in France.
Years later, although I have not planned it, I returned again into this fantasy world with glittering towers and winding staircases. Again I felt like that 5-6-year-old child, remembered the happy moments of my childhood and finally realized that the fictional world of Charles Perrault’s fairytale is not entirely fictional.
And all thanks to my visit to a real castle in the Loire region of France. The castle named “Chambord”.
CHAMBORD CASTLE LOCATION
Castle “Chambord” is located in the department Loit-et-Cher in France and is one of the most popular and most frequently visited castles in the Loire Valley. It is included in the list of World Heritage by UNESCO, I guess mostly because of its exceptional blend of traditional medieval architecture (which so fascinates me) and later Renaissance forms. “Chambord” is the largest castle in the Loire Valley, even though it was only built as a hunting lodge for King Francois I.
Information on how to get to the castle (with different transport) can be found on the official website of the castle HERE
WHY VISIT CHAMBORD?
Chambord Castle has very interesting and unique architecture. As I mentioned before, it is difficult to determine the exact style in which it was built because the medieval architecture, known for its simple form, here is supplemented by Renaissance decorative elements. The building is organized around the impressive omnipresent staircase. In each part you want to go you have to use the beautifully twisting stairs made of white stone. They are in great contrast with the numerous dark rooms with high ceilings. However, in some of the rooms, (especially ladies’ bedrooms), there is a feel of desire for light and freshness through draped canopies and upholstery with floral motives. Now most of the rooms are half-empty (compared to some other castles in the Loire area) and some large salons are used as art exhibitions.
The best part of the castle is the terrace which you can reach by climbing the swirling staircase. The terrace turns around the building and gives wide view to the park. From there, one can get see the magnificent park and eventually to have a wish to walk in nature.
CHAMBORD CASTLE -WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO
The castle offers a really great choice for outdoors entertaining. You can hire a boat to go on the canals or rent a bicycle, carriage or 4×4 vehicle with a driver. Of course, this is not free and comes at a price. But what you can do for free is to walk around. It is recommended to choose an early morning or evening hours for your pedestrian walk if you decide to visit the castle in the summer because of the sun and lack of shade near the castle’s building.
In terms of food, you have a choice between The Café d’Orléans which is located in the castle’s courtyard and the restaurants located at the entrance of the park, near the ticket’s office. Market with several stalls offering local specialties is situated also at the entrance. However, you can always prepare your own picnic that you can enjoy in the permitted areas. Definitely, you will need to refresh yourself after the exhausting but enjoyable tour.
Other additional entertainments possibilities include horse riding show (which, to my disappointment, I could not attend) and observation points located in the park at different places from where you can watch birds and other animals in the wild.
At the entrance point, just after the parking, there is also a market where you can buy some local handmade goodies like honey, jam, and traditional French cooking spices.
CHAMBORD CASTLE – PRICES & PERIODS TO VISIT
€ 11 for adults
€ 9 discount for groups and other conditions that can be verified on place
€ 0 – for young people under 25 years citizens of European Union, that have to be proven with identity document (I like this option because young people have to see the world as much as possible!)
€ 4 per day per car
Definitely, the best period to visit the castle is during summer because then you can take full advantage of all the entertainment offered.
During the winter season, the working hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during the summer from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. More details you can see HERE
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