Showing posts with label Loire Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Loire Valley. Show all posts

Sunday, 11 June 2017

France, Loire Valley: Château du Clos Lucé

Château du Clos Lucé
Next stop in the Loire Valley was Château du Clos Lucé. It was a very educational insight into history as well as a Renaissance-like gastronomic experience.  I was amazed by the Leonard Da Vinci Park, it really brings his legacy to life.

History of Château du Clos Lucé

The Amboise family formerly owned the Chateau but between 1214 - 1417, the Cistercians of Monce were given free reign over the land by the family. The pink brick and the freestone domain that you can admire today was initially built for Louis XI in 1471. The king offered it to Etienne Le Loup, an otherwise ordinary kitchen man. By then the chateau was surrounded by tall walls. In 1490, Charles VIII bought the place to use as a summer residence for all the kings.

The King modified the fortress into a castle for entertainment and pleasure. He built an oratory, a gift for his wife, Queen Anne de Bretagne. At the time, the dukes and kings of the land spent a lot of time in Clos Lucé in Amboise.

At the end of the 17th century, the castle changed its name from Château du Clouxis to Château du Clos Lucé. During the revolution, the Amboise family managed to save it from destruction only to become later part of the Saint Bris family.

Château du Clos Lucé - The Kitchen

The Château and Leonardo Da Vinci

King Francis I had appreciated the talent of Leonardo da Vinci for quite some time and so between 1516 – 1519, da Vinci came to live at the Château du Clos Lucé at the invitation of the King. At the age of 64, da Vinci along with his friends, Francesco Melzi and Battista de Villanis travelled by mule through the Alps. With him, he carried some of his most favourite paintings;  the Mona Lisa, the Virgin and Child and, of course, John the Baptist. He also brought along very important notes and sketches. Leonardo da Vinci would stay at the Château until his death 3 years later.

Leonardo da Vinci chose to spend his last days here for a reason. Its stunning beauty along with its strong sense of history affected him on a whole other level.

Leonardo Da Vinci Park

If you admire and understand the work of da Vinci, you are probably familiar with his paintings and sketches of this place. You can walk along the same paths that da Vinci took when he was living there. Trees, plants, and lots of moving water set the amazing scenery, along with rocks, caves and waterfalls.  Leonardo Da Vinci was an Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music and more!  Here at the Château du Clos Lucé, he worked on innovative designs and architectural sketches that unfortunately didn't come to fruition due to his death.

You will be amazed when you will find yourself among the old pines by the pond. Here, you can find Madonna lilies, horned violets and the renowned, Mona Lisa Rose. A visit to Château du Clos Lucé is without a doubt a trip not to be missed by anyone who appreciates and admires the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

A meal at L'Auberge du Prieuré

The Auberge du Prieuré is a dining experience like no other! Situated in the garden, its Renaissance decorated rooms take you back to Leonard Da Vinci time through a 3-course  Renaissance that can also be enjoyed outside on its shaded terrace, weather permitting.

We started with a choice of Renaissance wines in that time they used spices to preserve the wine for longer. Red wine spiced with cinnamon, lovage, cloves and sugar and white is sage wine, mint, sugar and pepper.

herb flan and green salad

Puree of carrots and Poularde

Pear in spiced wine

Château du Clos Lucé
2 Rue du Clos Luce, Ambroise, France
Hours: Open daily, closed December 25 and January 1

A brief video about my visit to Château du Clos Lucé:

Disclosure: I was a guest of Château Clos Lucé as part of press trip organised by  Atoutfrance. All views are my own.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

France, Loire Valley: Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

One of my dreams came through - A visit to a Château in the Loire Valley! Having heard so much about them I was thrilled to spend time at the Château de Chenonceau is located in the Loire Valley in France, by the River Cher.  It was once the property of the French Crown. Tourists from all over the world visit this chateau for its exceptional beauty, the vast artefacts in its collection, its furniture and the amazing decorations. This castle has always been protected by extraordinary women, who have managed to mark history with their protective actions and their strong personalities.

History of Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

The Château was built in 1513 by a lady named Katherine Briconnet and later on in history passed through the hands of Diane de Poitiers and then Catherine de Medici. Between 1789 – 1799, Madame Dupin owned the Chateau and successfully managed to protect the castle from the hardships of the French Revolution - the Château at the time was the centre of the most famous French philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. All of the women, who protected it during wars and conflicts, were aiming to keep this place beautiful and peaceful, no matter what the rest of the world was suffering.

The Chapel inside Château de Chenonceau

The Great Hall Château de Chenonceau
part of the kitchen Château de Chenonceau
part of the kitchen Château de Chenonceau

part of the kitchen Château de Chenonceau
Beautiful flower arrangements at part of the kitchen Château de Chenonceau

A visit to Château de Chenonceau

I visited the castle and its fantastic museum, which hosts a large selection of paintings by the Old Masters. In this museum, you will have the opportunity to admire the paintings of Murillo, Rubens, Le Tintoret, Nicolas Poussin, and Charles-Andre Van Loo. In almost every room you can admire the unique collection of Flanders Tapestries dating back to the 16th century.

I loved the flower compositions in each room. It's  created and curated by floral designer Jean-Francois Boucher, Master Craftsman of France.
Jean-Francois Boucher, Master Craftsman of France

I experienced the incredible tour with the help of a small iPod that guided me through every room in the château  - one of the best things about the tour is that it's free and very helpful. One of the things most worth seeing in the château is, of course, the wide variety of plants, flowers and vegetation which amazed me!  Each one has its very own personality. A special Botanical tour with Nicholas Tomlan, botanical director  and  time in the Castle  flower workshop with Jean-Francois Boucher can be arranged in advance, contact

The Floral and Vegetable Garden

Finding myself into the floral gardens, I had the chance to see more than 100 climber rose-trees. They are specially grown and groomed for this garden. You can also find here 240 apple trees and 220 Queen Elizabeth rose-trees. The vegetable garden holds a variety of vegetables as well as herbs. They have a musical garden and they make their own honey.

The Green Garden

Another fantastic garden designed by Bernard Palissy. Here you can see sculptures nestled amongst Japanese Coretes, Laurels, Yews, Box trees, cherry trees, Chimonanthuses and Calycanthuses. Spread along the greenhouses, you can find Magnolias, Cedars, and Sequoias.

Catherine and Diane’s Gardens

I took my time to admire the shrubs and the stemmed roses. Along the 70 hectares, you will find more than 40,000 flowers. Walking through the maze and getting lost in time and beaut is a must!

A meal at The Orangerie

The  Château de Chenonceau has a couple of eateries choices. I visited the Orangerie, which is open from March to November, it can host up to 200 people, I just love the fabulous space and the stunning interior design.


'A meal should always start with champagne'

A platter with fantastic appetizers : Smoke duck with onion confit, foie and beet jelly, Cherie tomato pesto and olive oil

Delicate Seabass filed with spinach, tasty  grilled artichoke, rocket pistou, white asparagus,  verdant and sweet peas scattered with purple edible flowers borage

Dessert :  Divine Lime  and orange: Creamy coconut ice cream, the smallest Meringue, Citrus Coulis, Lime zest and Coconut shavings  - a work of art on a plate
Beautiful cheese cart, favourite was Le Fleur de Nuits by Rodolphe Le Meunier
A wonderful meal by Chef  Christophe Cannett, perfect friendly service. 

The Château de Chenonceau is definitely a place worth visiting at least once in your life.

A brief video of my visit: 

Disclosure: I was a guest of Château de Chenonceau  as part of press trip organised by Atoutfrance. All views are my own.
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