Afternoon in the charming town of Blois

Blois Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 19 › view all entries
The main entrance, part of the Louis XII wing

Why does this always happen to me?? Seriously! Just when I was about to write off the Loire Valley as overhyped and a drag and monotonous, along come 2 reasons for me not to - Angers described in the previous entry and now, Blois, yet another darling little town. I do wonder what would've been if I had reversed the order of my visits, and seen this place first. Or perhaps, the formula of save the best for last does work!

Right after reaching the station, I made my quick 5 min walk to the Chateau. Not the most impressive from outside no doubt, but the city itself had already started to charm me and for the first time in this trip, I was thinking what to do AFTER the Chateau visit! The Chateau has a very rich manory feel, a lot less blaring than the others and if I hadn't known better, could've easily passed off as just another building.

Sculptures found on the basement found near the Chateau of Middle Ages
Infact, you don't get the X factor of the place until you walk in. That's when the splendour of the place starts to unfold.

History lesson - the Chateau was in use from the 13th Century by the Count of Blois, and is notoriously popular for stories such as the murder of Duke of Guise, and reached its peak in the 15th Century when King Francois I moved to this chateau. Infact, the town gained the highly credible title of "Versailles of Renaissance", the second capital of France and "the city of Kings". But then, talk about a downslide of credibility - from the hotspot of Kings it was soon relegated to a palace of exile with popular housemates being Louis XIII's mum to name but few.

I'll get to the best parts later, but start by saying that the chateau-walk for tourists is well organised.

In the ornate hall of the Royal Apartments, in the Flamboyant Louis XII building
You walk through a series of old sculptures, and then get to the interiors. Then you get to the best part - the grand rooms. In typical French style, everything is really well done and colourful. I spent about 30 mins here just walking through the rooms, adorning the decoration and just the...fine-ness of things. But it's when you walk out, and into the courtyard that you see why this Chateau is famous.

The courtyard, as the books say is an illustrated storybook of French architecture. You have 4 different types of architecture, standing next to one another, and in perfect harmony, each one complimenting the other. You have the Gothic style as seen in the Chateau of Middle Ages, the flamboyant style crated by Louis XII at the start of the 1500s as seen in the Louis XII wing (which also is the main entrance building and houses the chapel), then came the Renaissance flavour including the famed spiral staircase and finally, the Classic style seen in the Gaston D'Orleans, a building which to this date remains incomplete (started mid 17th century).

Le Chambre du Roi - bedroom of King Henri IV
I could go on and on, but it was just one of those moments where you have 4 significant types of architecture staring you at the face, right next to each other and not only do you appreciate each of their differences, but you also notice just how radically different each one was.

The rain had stopped and it was getting a bit warmer, so I headed out for a bit. The gardens around the entrance were to die for, and I flex'ed my pano for some photos of the same, before I walked down, to the town.

I have to say, Blois is an incredible little pocket of dynamite-ness. How and why do the travel books overlook this in favour of Tours and all? This town really looks like it's got lots of offer in terms of walking around, and a lively main street.

Francois I wing with the spiral staircase (Renaissance architecture)
I didn't have my travel books with me (and those of you know that I didn't plan this trip that well as I do for my other trips), so I didn't know where to go or what to do. So what? The town looked charming enough for a nice walk. I loved how you have tiny staircases leading up to lanes, how you have white stone houses adorned with red brick chimneys criss crossing with cobbled pavements, and the odd creperie thrown in for good measure. As we've come to expect out of France, lots of manicured lawns, gardens and flowers grown everywhere, including one really cool part in the middleof a staircase leading up to the main church.

I walked on a narrow cobblestone staircase up to the church. Church was same old same old, but the town Blois is basically on a hillside looking into the Loire Valley unlike other towns that are *in* the valley which not only makes for some fantastic walking around town but also brilliant views into the valley.

Chateau of the middle ages (Gothic architecture)
I walked back to the station in time to catch the 430pm train back to Tours, needing to checkout and head to Paris at night. But I really did enjoy this place and would recommend this as the first stop to anyone wishing to tour the Loire Valley.

On my return to Tours, I  went back to the bookstore to check out some other books I could buy but didn't find any. I had my dinner at the usual rsnt  Le Congres (review in the Tours entry dated 31st August'09), and checked out of the hotel before catching the crowded yet uneventful train to Paris. Overall, I'd say my stay in the Loire Valley was hit or miss. Relaxed yes, breathtaking... up for discussion! Some good and some bad moments. So in short, the "perfect" holiday!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The main entrance, part of the Lou…
The main entrance, part of the Lo…
Sculptures found on the basement f…
Sculptures found on the basement …
In the ornate hall of the Royal Ap…
In the ornate hall of the Royal A…
Le Chambre du Roi - bedroom of Kin…
Le Chambre du Roi - bedroom of Ki…
Francois I wing with the spiral st…
Francois I wing with the spiral s…
Chateau of the middle ages (Gothic…
Chateau of the middle ages (Gothi…
Louis XII wing - Flamboyant archit…
Louis XII wing - Flamboyant archi…
Gaston dOrleans - Classic archite…
Gaston d'Orleans - Classic archit…
View right outside the chateau - n…
View right outside the chateau - …
the town - pretty thing, innit?!
the town - pretty thing, innit?!
Random garden on the staircase lea…
Random garden on the staircase le…
Another example of why I love this…
Another example of why I love thi…
Who said the French aint trendy?
Who said the French ain't trendy?
Another random shot I took of the …
Another random shot I took of the…
Blois
photo by: wanderlass