Europe trip 2013 part 4

My idea was to travel back from Switzerland to Amsterdam via France. Last year I had visited a few Loire castles with my brother Pim,  and I wanted to show their beauty to Aric, so I booked two nights in Blois. However, planning in more detail, I found that the distance between Grindelwald and Blois was almost 700 km, a bit too long for a comfortable drive. Therefore I looked for a suitable stopover halfway. Beaune! To be honest, the name did not ring a bell. Now I know better.

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Wine lover friends will scold me, because Beaune is the Wine Capital of the Burgundy region. The most important wine auction of France is held here yearly, but we were too early for that. Besides, Burgundy wines are too  expensive for me.

It is a medieval town with a famous tourist attraction: the Hospices de Beaune, a hospital for the poor, founded in 1443 (!)

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Well worth a visit, here are some pictures.

The hospices also possess a very famous medieval work of art, The Last Judgment (1445-1450) by Rogier van der Weyden. Impressive.

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After a nice dinner and a good night sleep we continued the next day to Blois, situated on the banks of the Loire river. The weather had changed, it drizzled when we arrived. We did a short walk in the town

After our walk we had a delicious dinner

Haute Cuisine in les Banquettes Rouges, Blois

Haute Cuisine in les Banquettes Rouges, Blois

The next day it was raining cats and dogs! Still we decided to visit the two castles. And we were not the only ones. It was the National Heritage weekend, there were special activities everywhere and the admission was at a reduced rate or even free. Resulting in crowds of people. First we visited Chenonceau, my favourite.

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Because of the rain we skipped the beautiful gardens and spent more time inside the castle. In its present state it dates back to the 16th century. The castle was acquired by king François I and later given by his son, Henry II to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. She commissioned the building of the famous arched bridge across the river Cher.

Next destination was Chambord, the largest of the Loire castles. If Chenonceau is androgynous, Chambord is alpha-male…:-).Built by the same king François I and possibly designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

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The rain had become heavy now, we were soaked already, so we spent only a short time on the roof with its many chimneys. Pity for all the people who took part in the activities. The castle was never inhabited continuously, the kings of France just moved in a for a couple of weeks. Lous XIV, the Roi-Soleil had a ceremonial bedchamber here, where VIPs could watch how he woke up and was dressed..:-)

Wet and cold we came back to our hotel, bought some food in the supermarket and had a simple meal in our room. This was the only day during our trip that we had bad weather, so we consider ourselves lucky…:-)

The next morning there was sun and blue sky again! But we had to be back in Amsterdam that evening, so we could only make a hurried visit of the castle of Blois. The Chateau de Blois is located in the center of the town, from our hotel room we could see the backside of the François I wing. Here is the entrance from the square:

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There is a lot to see in the castle, the famous octagonal staircase in the courtyard, the François I wing, the Salle des États Généraux and much more. But we had not much time. Here are some pictures

Are you interested in philosophy? Then you may think about the caption with Aric above: “The present king of France is Chinese” True or false?

We arrived in Amsterdam just in time to return our car. About 3500 km in two weeks time.