As I write this article, the riots in France are a daily reality. The French have always been temperamental people. Don’t touch their French language, cuisine, or history. Live La France!
The journey to France is all about the era of kings, princesses, mistresses, and reigns. On the way to Blois, we make a stop in Paris. Just because we can. Notre Dame Cathedral had already been properly restored but was not yet open to visitors. We left the Eiffel Tower in the distance for what it was. Paris is a beautiful, historic city, but also a touristy city where you can recognize the average tourist by her French Beret, so we quickly drove further, deeper into France.
From Paris, it was still a long drive to Blois. Most of the castles we wanted to visit were in and around Blois. If you are interested in all the castles we visited, about four a day, I can email you the list, but for this article, I will stick to the pictures. Because to be fair, I’m still a creative person, so pictures say more than lists.
The first few castles we visited impressed me so much, the paintings in particular reminded me of my art history lessons at school. What is initially a nice picture, always turns out to have a hidden message. Every item on the canvas has been placed for a special reason and meaning. If you look closely you can often see hidden items under the mother’s skirt, behind a table, or in the reflection of a copper pot. Those were always my favorite lessons at school.
How different is that nowadays with the well-known ‘AI’ possibilities? The admiration for these old artists bubbled up again. I regretted not having my pen and paper with me. If I would have had more time, I would have loved to sit down on a bench and draw these great sculptures. Just back to basics again.
One of the castles we visited was the castle of Sleeping Beauty. This castle was used in the story Sleeping Beauty. I have to admit, it was a really impressive castle. Of course, I immediately felt like the princess waiting for her prince from her tower room (oh, I guess that was the story of Rapunzel)
Unfortunately, the owners had thrown a Disney twist on the whole experience, telling the story of Sleeping Beauty in every room with accompanying Disney-like music. The feeling of stepping back in time disappeared completely. I felt more like I had ended up in Eurodisney.
Some castles were in a full restoration. They tried to compensate for this by using tablets and exhibitions. One of those exhibitions was about Joan of Arc. While today’s twenty-something kid can hardly take care of himself, back in those days, Jeane already went to war at that age. How strangely different those times were.
In Château de Chenonceau I read the story of Louise Marie Madeline Fontaine also known as Madame Dupin. Coincidentally, I read her story on International Women’s Day and was impressed by her feminist attitude. Her goal in life was to make an encyclopedia in which she could prove once and for all that the “second sex” (the woman) was no different from a man. She lived from 1706-1799. Impressive how this woman dared to stand up to the man.
After five days back in time visiting many castles, reading history, and looking at paintings, my brain had an overload of information so it was time to come back to the present.
It was beautiful. Impressive. Overwhelming.
Luckily, we still have the pictures!
*Note: these are not all photos because that would be too much.