Attractions: Chateau de Chambord

May 4, 2023

Paul Kay

Are you looking for some vacation destinations? You probably want to know about attractions at your destinations. We have fun facts about attractions at the Chateau de Chambord, France in this post. Chateau de Chambord has so many interesting things to see. It is the largest castle in the Loire Valley and is considered one of the most remarkable examples of French Renaissance architecture. The construction of Chambord began in 1519 under the reign of King Francis I, and it took more than 20 years to complete. If you love castles, you’ll love this. Maybe you need to add it to your vacation destination?

We had a lovely tour that we booked with our friends and tour guides, Doru and Stella. They are a terrific duo. Doru is a walking encyclopedia book and can answer anything on your mind.

Stella is full of history as well but she’s also a terrific photographer. She and Madeline would walk around composing and discussions shots, angles, composition, etc. Doru and I would talk about history.

They are a terrific couple, very informative and just fun to be around. We would recommend taking the tour with Doru and Stella. You can find them at their website Visit France

Chateau de Chambord was built by French King Francis I as a royal hunting lodge but became the largest Renaissance castle in the Loire Valley. Leonardo de Vinci assisted in the architecture of the castle. After the Battle of Marignan in 1515, Francis I decided to build a castle as a symbol of his power in stone. The site had been occupied for centuries by the Counts of Blois, who owned the land since the 10th Century, before becoming the property of the crown in 1491.  

Francis I spent considerable funds and effort building Chambord. Construction was slow even though he had 1,800 workers there for fifteen years. He only stayed at the chateau for 42 days out of his 32-year reign. Francis did not live to see the ultimate completion of the chateau. Francis I died in 1547. By that time, only the keep and royal wing had been completed. His son, Henry II, and later Louis XIV – both kings fond of hunting – continued construction at the castle.  King Louis XIV managed to finish construction.  Louis IV would stay at Chambord and host hunting parties for his court.

Louis XIV was responsible for the extension of the chateau, bringing the number of rooms up to 440 in total. Louis began his reign when he was just four years old and continued for 72 years, the longest reign in European history.

Louis XIV began work to equip and decorate the chateau interior. The first long term occupant was his father-in-law Stanislas Leszczynski, king of Poland in exile from 1725 to 1733. The interiors were eventually furnished with woodwork, parquet floors, etc. There were 282 fireplaces because there was no such thing as central heating. Rooms were cold from autumn to springtime.

Ceramic stove at Chateau de Chambord

This huge Polish ceramic stove is one of three installed at Chambord by the Marechal de Saxe. He was appointed Superintendent of the Chambord Hunt in 1745 by King Louis XV and then lived in the chateau.  He spent his personal fortune on renovations, purchasing the stoves in an attempt to keep at least some of the rooms warm.

Back entrance to Chateau de Chambord

We entered Chambord from the rear, and we noticed both a French and American flag.

American flag with French and EU flying at back of Chateau de Chambord

When we looked up at Chambord from this vantage point, we were amazed by the intricate architecture before us.

Double spiral staircase and tapestries

The central section of the château of Chambord is the keep, otherwise known as the donjon in French. No, it does not mean dungeon. A “keep” is the strongest portion of the fortification of a castle, the place of last resort in case of siege or attack. The keep shows its Italian influence. The four sides of the keep open to very large rooms. In the center rises the monumental double helix staircase which Leonard de Vinci inspired. The double helix was a revolutionary design and an engineering masterpiece. These are not the only staircases, there are 82 in total. On a tour of Chambord, we probably only saw about 15 percent of it. They are constantly repairing centuries-old buildings and taking care of them.

Chandeliers and antlers abound at Chateau de Chambord

The interior rooms are magnificent. The French chandeliers are lit and the paintings on the wall make you feel like you can imagine what it might have been like to be invited to the King’s chateau. 

Original part of facade with salamander inside circle

We noticed what appeared to be some carved animal on the walls and ceilings. Doru told us that they were salamanders. The small creature was the emblem of Francis I with a crown and the motto “I eat the good fire, I put out the bad ". The motto refers to the popular belief that a salamander has the power to resist flame.

Clock from facade now on display inside at Chateau de Chambord

Because the chateau is always under restoration and repair, we were surprised to see some of the façade preserved in various rooms. In the above picture, this is the clock which was originally located on the second floor of the castle in 1683. It kept time for over three centuries. The clock worked thanks to a cable and pulley system. It was removed in 1950 because it was no longer working, and it needed to be preserved.

Horse drawn carriages of the court of Chambord

They preserved the carriages used by the King and his court and they are on display inside Chambord. 

Great kitchen

Chambord is so massive and the kitchen we saw was oversized as well. 

I can only imagine how many people were working in the kitchen when the King and his court were in Chambord. 

The famous French writer, Moliere, was a frequent guest at the chateau. At the time, Moliere was widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and world literature.  Chambord has a theatre dedicated to Moliere. It is in Chambord, in 1670, that Moliere presented the premiere of his comedy, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

View of the back side of Chateau de Chambord with Paul and Doru

If you look closely, you can see Doru and I talking while Madeline took the photo of the back side of Chambord. While the chateau itself is massive, the grounds around it are even more massive. It is now called Chateau de Chambord park. It is as large as the city of Paris. It is the largest enclosed park in Europe.

The Château de Chambord park is as vast as inner Paris. It is the largest enclosed park in Europe totaling over 13,400 acres. The park is surrounded by 20 miles of walls. 

In 2017, Chambord renovated its grand gardens. It added over 15,000 plants, 800 shrubs, 600 trees and replaced over 200,000 square feet of lawn. They studied the gardening practices of the era of Louis XIV for over 16 years and attempted to recreate the gardens as they would have been during his reign. If you come in the spring or summer, you’ll see everything in bloom.

Chambord is very impressive and well worth your time. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. We had a great time with Doru and Stella and learned so much about this magnificent place. You should add it to your travel itinerary if you are visiting France. Now, it’s time to move on to other famous French chateaux.

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