Sunday, November 2, 2008

My European Trip 14 -- Loire Valley

慕名前往法国城堡之乡卢瓦河谷,使我惊叹留恋的不是那一座座风格迥异的城堡,而是念兹在兹的田园生活,如诗如画, ---- 还有那个清晨在窗前写信时满怀感恩的心情。 -- 题记

A couple of hours south of Paris, the Loire Valley is a cultural landscape of great beauty, containing historic towns and villages, and great architectural monuments. There I lived an idyllic life, visited footprints of the Hundred Years' War, and read anecdotes of the French royal family from one château to another.

During the eventful Hundred Years' War, the Loire valley was the trusted refuge of the French side. Charles VII, the dauphin, moved his fragile power and the royal administration to the Loire, traveling endlessly. Thus, from one chateau to another, I came across him. For example, Chinon was ever announced by Charles VII as the capital in the heart of the martyred kingdom. This is also the place where the story of Joan of Art (圣女贞德) happened.

The architectural monuments see the transition from defensive castles to renaissance châteaux, places of luxury, pleasure and refinement. The word "château" is hard to translate: "castle" is too warlike, "palace" too regal. Besides, they are so different from Versailles and Fontainebleau.

My travel route is Chinon -- Azay-le-Rideau -- Villandry -- (Blere) -- Chenonceaux -- Amboise -- Blois -- Chambord. In the following articles, I invite you to come with me to the Loire valley, and enjoy a harmonious blend of natural and man-made beauty.

The Château of Azay-le-Rideau


The Château of Villandry


The Château of Foutevraud


The Château of Chenonceaux


The Château of Chambord


The last, but not the least, I strongly recommend you to spend several nights in the Loire valley and savor the local food. For a long time this area is famous for wine and delicacies.

Bon voyage and bon appetit!



Next Stop: Chinon


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