Things to see and do - Châteaux of the Loire
Chateaux of the Loire Valley: Langeais, Azay-le-Ri :
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Chateaux of the Loire Valley: Langeais, Azay-le-Ri
Chateaux of the Loire Valley: Langeais, Azay-le-RiBy car, 28 km, 1 day
Nestling between the forest and the Loire, but on different banks, Langeais and Ussé express the quintessence, perhaps, of what makes up the gentle charm of the Loire Valley. Azay-le-Rideau, lying halfway between these two fairy-tale chateaux, has been described as "a cut diamond set in the River Indre."Customise this route and add it to My travel book
The feudal stronghold of Langeais, with its high walls, round towers, crenellated sentry walk and drawbridge, has survived intact through the centuries. Built between 1465 and 1470 by Jean Bourré, Louis XI's treasurer (1423-83), the castle houses untold treasures, antique furniture and fine tapestries; note, in particular, the tapestries portraying the Nine Heroes and some mille-fleurs. Above all, savour the authentic atmosphere of the 15C and the Renaissance.
This marvellously graceful and white château (called Azay-le-Brûlé, in honour of a massacre, until the 18C) was built from 1518 to 1527, by Gilles Berthelot. It is dominated by turrets that still evoke Medieval times. This architectural gem was partly built over the river Indre and is reflected in the water that surrounds it. The L-shaped château was once a fortified manor and is now an elegant edifice. Its exterior façade is richly decorated and shows the period's refinement. The dormer windows have a clearly Renaissance decoration, with elements such as pilasters, interlacing patterns and other details inspired from Antiquity. The interior displays remarkably well-preserved decoration and furniture: 16C and 17C tapestries from Brussels or Antwerp, canopy chairs. The main staircase stands in the middle of the main dwelling. It was one of the first straight interior staircases, so has a straight ramp, and is adorned with a coffered ceiling.
Situated on the edge of the forest of Chinon, overlooking the Indre, the château of Ussé inspired Charles Perrault's tale of Sleeping Beauty. This white mass made of the local tuff stone was built on the foundations of an 11C fortress. The present building dates from the 15 and 16C. The building structure is in a U-shape and has been altered on several occasions. The façades are in Gothic style (on the outside) and Renaissance style in the main courtyard. The north wing was demolished in the 17C to allow the castle to look onto the River Indre and the gardens. The old chapel and large gallery have sumptuous 16C tapestries of Flemish origin. The Guard Room has a magnificent 17C ceiling and contains an astonishing collection of oriental weapons. The King's Room, hung with silk with a Chinese pattern, was prepared in case the king came that way. Finally, the chapel built in the park from 1520 to 1538, is an absolute gem; its Renaissance façade is decorated with the initials of the builders. Inside are stalls sculpted with 16C figures and a Virgin with children (enamelled earthenware) by Luca della Robbia.