Afternoon in the charming town of Blois
Blois Travel Blog› entry 10 of 19 › view all entries
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!