Friday, June 23, 2006


I actually went to the chateau at Chambord earlier in my Loire 'tripping around', when I was camping at Bracieux. It was such a shock to me to be in full-on "tourist-land" after over a week cycling in the countryside, that I only cycled in the grounds and never went in! However, the outside view has remained one of the most splendid I have seen so I decided to go inside this morning.
I took another of the routes out of the 'Chateaux By Velo' leaflet: fortunately a little short quiet road from the camping ground joined me on to it. It was an interesting ride through Vineuil (houses and high school) then out into the countryside. I actually passed some fields of sunflowers but they are still too short to get that archeypal photo taken with sunflowers in the background- though I noticed a few had opened by this afternoon.
There was an informative video soon after you entered Chambord and I am glad I took the time to sit and see it, as it made a lot of sense of the architectural arrrangement I was about to see. When you first see Chambord, you see a mass of spires of all shapes and sizes and the whole thing looks incredibly complex. But in the video it pointed out how there is a central tower, that is like an Italian 'lantern' that allows in lots of light. This tower has a "double" staircase going up inside it. Even as you walk up it, it is hard to work out how it all fits together: you can enter either staircase for climbing or descending. Then around the central tower, four nearly symmetrical sections are arranged in the form of a cross. It is apparently quite rare to have a secular building made like this. Having seen the video, it all made sense as I walked through the rooms and along the outside passages. You get to climb two flights and come out on a roof closer to some of the spires so they look all the more impressive. But it is the overal design of the sections around the central tower, elegant and seemingly simple, that I found most impressive.
I left Chambord and started the cycle route home. Thought I was about to miss out on my lunch-timing yet again when I came across a village restaurant with a good value three course menu.
Next I bumped into a slightly distressed young Japanese woman. She had hired a bike but was even more lost than I usually manage to get. So I went back along the road with her until Chambord was in sight, at which stage she looked very happy. I hope she gets home all right this evening.

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