Monday, 8 September 2014

Langeais: 16th century fashionistas

Recently we went and visited the chateau of Langeais. We'd never been and the poster below piqued our interest- we particularly liked the 'Lou Reed' style shades. They have extended the exhibition until the end of September.


Langeais as we see it today was built in 1465 by Louis XI as royal residence and was never intended to be a defensive, fortified castle despite the appearance of its town-side facade. The facade facing the park is much more Renaissance in style with large windows and no crenellations. There had been a donjon [keep] on the site from the turn of the 11th century, the ruins of which still stand in the park. The original donjon had been built by Foulques Nerra, Count of Anjou as part of his defensive line during his interminable disputes with Eudes 1er, Count of Blois.
remains of the donjon

1465 "new build"
In the attics we finally found the costume exhibition. Though not extensive, it was interesting as it portrayed the progression of clothes and changes of style in the 16th century.

Two points to the person** who correctly guesses which costume is the earliest and an additional 2 bonus points for correctly identifying the 'odd one out'. :-)




**Susan -- give the others a chance ;-)

Just to give you some clues here are two photos of the waxwork of the marriage of Anne of Brittany to Charles VIII, which took place in 1491.



As always you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Impressions: Chaumont show gardens II

Both our friend Jane, as well as ourselves, took plenty of photos when we visited the show gardens at Domaine Chaumont-sur-Loire so here are a few more for you to enjoy.




These three above are from a garden called 'Péchés virtuels' which had, on the right [as you entered], an undulating carpet of low growing green plants on which were sat boxes of canna's. In between were little placards with the names of the seven deadly sins. On the other side there was an enormous butterfly with mottled wings.


Echinacea framing the turrets of Chaumont - part of the border which framed the central intersection in the show garden area.


This show garden, entitled 'Bloom', above, had a circular white table running round the perimeter of the garden with bar chairs - you can see a number of the chairs in the photo. The designer's idea was to reflect gluttony by having the planting represent all the things you couldn't reach when you were seated, as they were in the centre encircled by the table.



These two photos above are from 'Ma cassette' the first of the show gardens. The bamboo, below, is from what we dubbed the "teacup garden" and thought was called 'Bloom', but which in reality is entitled 'Le purgatoire des tentations'. Antoinette duly sat in a tea cup for a photo, as did Jane in our other post about the gardens which you can read about here.







With grateful thanks to our friend Jane H. for all the photos in this post, with the exception of Antoinette in the tea cup.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The dining room at Domaine de Candé

Earlier this month we took our friend Jane to see the Chateau de Candé near Tours. On the day we went we had the place to ourselves. There wasn't another soul about- perhaps because the weather was windy, cool and rainy; hence we have no photographs of the outside.
Dining room, table all laid
Candé is a small Renaissance chateau --completed in 1508, with 19th century neo-gothic extensions and fabulous Art Deco bathrooms.

Detail: Cordovan leather walls,
One of its main claims to fame is it is where the marriage between the former King Edward VIII, who became the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson took place. Edward VIII abdicated, as marriage to a twice divorced woman was unacceptable to the Establishment in 1936. The Duke of Windsor knew the Franco-American owner, Charles Bedaux who had bought Candé in 1927 and was responsible for the amazing bathrooms and other mod-cons such as central heating. Bedaux offered to host the Duke's [at the time still controversial] wedding at Candé.
Angel playing a trumpet
The Duke & Duchess of Windsor's wedding breakfast was held here, in the dining room. The room itself has beautiful cordovan leather clad walls above elegant linen-fold panelling. You can just see a tiny bit of the painted beamed ceiling in the photo above. The beams end in a display of the Briçonnet coat of arms; they are the family who built the original Renaissance building.

Cheeky devil blowing out a woman's candle with some bellows
Inset into the dining room windows are various panels of late medieval or early Renaissance glass, two of which caught our eye.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire

Recently, we had a super time at Chaumont and only scratched the surface. There was plenty we didn't get around to seeing. We did, however, mange to have a good look at the chateau proper and a bit of the parc as well as the show gardens. The chateau sits on a lovely spot, atop a bluff overlooking the river Loire. Due to the mix of medieval towers and Renaissance additions it has, we think, elements of a 'fairy-tale castle'.
'Fairy-tale castle'
There's been a fortified building on the site since about the year 1000. At that time, Eudes 1er, Count of Blois decided to build a fortress as the location was on his border with the Count of Anjou, Fulke Nerra [we've written about him before here and here]. From a strategic point of view the location was excellent as the two of them were regularly in dispute. About fifty years later Chaumont became part of the holdings of the d'Amboise family and they held it for the next 500 years.
Great mix of medieval & Renaissance architecture
The current building dates from the 15th and the 16th century, and reflects a mix of the fortified medieval style and the Italian inspired Renaissance style. The stables and other outbuildings are of much later date [19th century].
Porcupine badge of King Louis XII, inner courtyard
In 1550 Catherine de'Medici, wife of King Henri II, bought Chaumont and regularly spent time there. She was very interested in astrology and both Nostradamus and Ruggieri were invited by her to Chaumont.  However, Catherine de Medici had her eye on Chenonceau, the Renaissance chateau built over the river Cher and given by the king to his mistress and favourite, Diane de Poitiers. When Henri II died in 1559, she 'required' Diane de Poitiers to exchange Chenonceau for Chaumont.
Inner courtyard, 16th century spiral staircase, center-right
In the 18th century Benjamin Franklin and the writer, Madame de Staël were guests of the Le Ray de Chaumont family who owned it at the time. In 1875 the chateau was bought by a sugar heiress who married the Prince de Broglie. They had the state of the art [for the time] stables built and it was the Prince de Broglie who commissioned the landscape architect Henri Duchêne to create the gardens [parc].

Parc at Chaumont looking towards the bluff above the Loire
The Princess de Broglie outlived her husband and retained ownership of Chaumont until 1938 when, as a result of financial losses and debts, she gifted Chaumont to the state.  Since 2007 Chaumont has been owned by Region Centre.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Chaumont show gardens part I

Last Monday we took our friend Jane, who is staying with us for the week, to visit Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire. We went to have a look at the show gardens and the chateau. Every year Chaumont hosts an international festival where garden designers from all over the world are invited to create a show garden based on a theme.


This year's theme is 'Jardins des Péchés Capitaux' [the deadly sins]. It was a glorious day, with the sun blazing down, so the garden attendants were hard at work keeping all the displays watered. We had a lovely time wandering around before heading towards the chateau proper.
Vallée de la brume
The little valley of the mist which led on from the decent into hell garden was beautifully cool and 'tropical'.
Narcissus
Many of the gardens featured hot colors to express anger and lust, but there were also gardens in which you could explore with interactive elements. In one, see-saw balance beams were used as a metaphor for life/trust/relationships, which kids loved playing on. Other gardens played on the pun in French between peaches and sins [peches/péchés] and featured little peach trees. The narcissus garden held a giant gold mirror which reflected the chateau's roof line.

Bloom [teacups are us]
One garden, called Bloom 'Le purgatoire des tentations': we're not sure where the link with sins/temptation came in; featured some giant teacups. We really loved the palette of colors that had been used, all blues, purples and mauves.

Our friend Jane in a teacup!
In fact, it matched the palette of colors used all round the Domaine in this year's floral displays and beds.

More on the gardens to follow...