The Château of Fontainebleau

The Château of Fontainebleau features as one of the most important in the history of royal France, but it is perhaps not very well known. Dozens of French kings called it home at least for part of the year, all the way up to the year 1870, but it is perhaps not well known to…

The Château of Chenonceaux

Sitting aside and crossing the Le Cher River, the Château of Chenonceaux is easily one of the greatest achievements of humans carefully adapting the built environment with the natural environment. Instead of trampling on the natural world, the renovation of what had been an old Medieval fortress was transformed into a residence that worked with…

The Château and Town of Blois

I’ll be honest; a lot of the Loire Valley featured run-down barns and beaten up farm implements interspersed with mostly new houses built in the last thirty years. But occasionally there were awe-inspiring châteaux and stunning towns that have preserved their historic architecture. One such place is the city of Blois, which sits on the…

The Château of Chambord

Oops, the Château of Chambord was undergoing massive restoration of its distinctive towers when we visited, but we still had a good time. Below is a view of what the château looks like without scaffolding. Designed for King Francis I, Chambord was never actually finished, and was rarely occupied during his reign. It however is…

Hameau de la Reine

Easily our favorite stop in the grounds of the Trianon was the Hameau de la Reine, or Queen’s Hamlet, constructed on the order of Queen Marie Antoinette. Despite centuries of slander, Marie Antoinette was not a clueless ditz who pretended to be a peasant girl in her Barbie hovel playset. In reality, the Queen’s Hamlet…

The Trianon

The Trianon was a village demolished for an expansion of the royal grounds of Versailles under the reign of Louis XIV. Equally influential in the development of garden and park design, the Trianon was built to provide a respite from the formality of the court at Versailles, and in the process and in combination with…

The Gardens of Versailles

Business up front, party in the back, as they say. The backside of Versailles facing the extensive gardens is made up of three flat elevations with large swaths of reflecting ponds and gravel paths on the first terrace. Looking out over the lower terraces, the various fountains, which were all off on the day we…

The Palace of Versailles

Visiting Versailles just about drove me crazy. It’s an exhausting day, taking a commuter railroad out from central Paris. But you have to take the right train, from the right station to the correct destination because there are multiple depots in the town of Versailles. It was a beautiful day for the start, and it…

The Louvre

I get a good laugh out of the Louvre. It is an absurdity. Obscenely huge, the product of around twenty expansions and now the home of a gigantic museum with a stellar art collection as well as numerous other institutions in other wings, the Louvre was never the seat of the royal government in France….

Foundations of the Louvre

Like St. Louis, Paris is multi-layered. One of the sights that I was not going to miss out on are the original foundations of the Louvre fortress, which are now viewable after being buried for centuries under the courtyard of the eastern portion of the famous palace. This helpful illustration that somehow photographed well above…