I love a good castle, and I’ve been lucky enough to see lots of Europe’s great ones, from the Pena Palace in Portugal to Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany to Windsor Castle in England. Missing from my royal repertoire, however, were the iconic French chateaux of the Loire Valley, Chambord and Chenonceau. Last spring, I was lucky enough to check both of them off my list, starting with grand old Chambord.
^ Is that not the most swoon-worthy wallpaper ever?!
Renaissance-style Chambord was built during the 16th century under the direction of King François I, whose personal emblem was the salamander. As such, you’ll find salamanders all over Chambord, carved into stone and wood. While it struck me as an odd choice of symbol at first, I learned that salamanders are known for being the one creature in the forest able to withstand a fire: perhaps not a bad trait for a king to aspire to.
Chambord’s other famous feature is its double helix staircase, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci (whose work we would see more of later on in our travels, in the town of Amboise). It was pretty impressive! Also impressive were the views from the top porch of the castle, giving you good views of the castle’s turrets and the vast hunting grounds beyond.
The Bottom Line: While I fell in love with dreamy Chenonceau – much more on that soon! – Chambord is not to be missed either. It’s less finished and far less romantic, but Chambord still offers lots to see.