Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Loire Valley

Last Saturday we travelled from Brittany to the Loire Valley to the city of Tours where we visited the Musee des Beaux-Arts.

We then went to Amboise to the Chateau du Clos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years there - he died on May 2nd 1519.

"The Château du Clos Lucé was purchased by Charles VIII on 2nd July 1490, and became the summer residence of the Kings of France, who lived in the Loire Valley at the Château d’Amboise.
Charles VIII transformed the Medieval fortress into a charming château and had a chapel built for the Queen, Anne of Brittany, who mourned the loss of her young children there.
Later, the young Duke of Angoulême, the future Francis I, organised tournaments in the gardens at Le Clos Lucé. His sister, Marguerite of Navarre, wrote the stories of the "Heptaméron" there. Brother and sister received visits from painters, architects and poets, and brought the place alive with the spirit of the Renaissance.

It was in 1516 that Francis I, advised by his sister Marguerite de Navarre, issued an invitation to Leonardo da Vinci.
Here you will be free to dream, to think and to work”. This was how the King of France welcomed the Italian genius, who crossed the Alps on a mule, bringing with him three of his most important works: The Mona Lisa, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, and the Saint John the Baptist, that he finished here, at the Château du Clos Lucé.
Leonardo da Vinci received a pension of 1000 gold crowns per year, and was named “The King’s First Painter, Engineer and Architect”. Until his death, he was the object of real affection on the part of Francis I – who called him “my Father” – his sister Marguerite and the whole Court."

The Loire Valley is full of interesting chateaus to visit and we chose Chateau de Langeais - it is a medieval castle where Duchess Anne of Brittany was married to Charles VIII.  It was interesting to visit the place where Anne was married at age 14 and her holiday home with the chapel where she mourned the loss of her children.  I loved walking in places knowing that she had walked there and I loved the rampart walk at the top of the castle too.

We have travelled south through Aquitane to Villereal so I will have to blog about our time here so check back in 24 hours for the next blog and more chateaus and views from this beautiful country.

Au revoir!

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