Ceilings, fireplaces and fancy floors

So my last post from the Chateau de Blois was of gargoyles and stonework, this one is, well just a bit fancier. We're inside the Palace and for some of this post inside the Royal apartments, so they should be fancier shouldn't they? 

But before we get there, let's enjoy the ceiling in the Great Hall. It reminds me very much of the ceiling at Saint Chapelle in Paris, and this google search (if the link works) should tell you why. Interestingly enough I was quite taken with the gargoyles outside there too. Yes, I really do have a thing for gargoyles. And ceilings.

Anyway, one of the things that struck me about our visit in Blois was how accessible things were. I mean in this fantastic room there was a pretend throne, which all of the kids - and MOH - tried for size. I'd share that photo here if it wasn't so blurry. I have to practice giggling and taking pictures.

The great hall in the chateau at Blois

The fireplaces throughout were pretty spectacular. As well as large and highly decorated. They looked similar - and these are just a few of them - and on more than one occasion I found myself popping back to the one I'd just visited to check if it was the same or not. And mostly they weren't.

A fancy fireplace
The fireplaces are all similar, but different
A second style of fireplace
And yes, there are a lot of fireplaces in the chateau

Some though were more fancier than others.

In the photo below you can see the decorated ceiling too, as well as glimpses of patterned wallpaper around the tapestry. I've said before they really did do pattern and colour didn't they in days gone by?

An ornate fireplace with a tapestry and a decorated ceiling

The lady in the bottom left of the photo above had ten or so school children with her, all drawing elements of the room. And I can tell you they were all so well behaved and polite, and that was great to see too. We kept bumping into them around the chateau as they rushed to the next room for their next activity and having sussed out we were English some tried their English out on us, giggling as they did so.  Hence quite a few more blurry photos.

But anyway, I haven't shown you any fancy floors yet and I promised you some.

A very fancy - and shiny - tiled floor

Just look at the shine on that.

Shiny huh.  And fancy obviously.  I was lusting after tiled floors on our visit here, but then realised I'd need another house to put them in so that plan's on hold for the moment. 

How about this for a party room? Yeap, I'd be pretty happy with it too.


Apparently most of the entertainment would conclude in the King's bedchamber, which I guess if you can you would, wouldn't you? And that was, as you'd expect, more lavishly decorated than the rooms before it.  The wallpaper in the shot below and the patterned panel on the fireplace are fantastic patterns which would, I think, translate to a modern setting. They might need to be on a reduced scale, but their geometric and repeating patterns don't look outdated to me.

As you'd expect the Kings Bedchamber has one an ornate fireplaces

I think I might give this floor a miss, but I can't say it's not fancy.

Patterns galore - floor, walls, ceiling and fireplace

There's even wallpaper with his initial too.  And an alternative floor H pattern.

More H designs, another floor and the wallpaper too

Seriously though the decoration throughout the chateau was great to see and at times mind blowing. The ceiling below was so very different than any we'd seen before. But then the more I looked at it, the more I could see a kaleidoscope pattern and couldn't help but wonder, what came first, the ceiling or the kaleidoscope?

Who knows...

The ceiling in the Counsel room

So all in all the Chateau de Blois, the Royal Apartments especially were a feast for my eyes. With colour and pattern overload - even for me - but such a great experience. I've more to share from here, but I think my next post in the Loire Cycle Tour will involve a long cycle in the rain, so look out for that one!

Home Etc

Gargoyles and stonework in Blois

I do like a gargoyle. Obviously I don't have my own, although at times I think it would be nice to add one, but where would you start?  I know they're supposed to be grotesque, but did you know they also have a spout designed to guide water from a roof and away from the building to avoid water running down the walls and eroding its mortar. You see, useful. And the more I think about it and our water-on-the-windows problems (a bad design involving windows in our mansard roof) I really do think a gargoyle would help us out.

If only I'd known when I saw these at the Château de Blois. Although they would have been tricky to transport on our bikes wouldn't they?! Before we got inside the chateau in the centre of Blois we already spotted these.

A decorative drainpipe
Looking up at the château de blois
Framing the window
The royal porcupine

Once inside the chateau this was the view we were met with. Absolutely stunning and my eyes didn't know where to look first. There was the classic French chateau architecture immediately in front of us, reminiscent of many chateaus we'd already seen. But there were plenty of things that were different too, the staircase on the right being just one of them. 

It turns out that the royal chateau of Blois has had quite a bit of work done, with each of the four wings showcasing French architecture from the 13th through to the 17th century, with each addition making it grander and slightly more bizarre. I guess, it really is a rather grand example of adding an extension in a completely different style. And when you learn that seven kings and ten queens of France, it's easy to see why the architecture became grander and grander.

Inside the courtyard

It was the Françoise I staircase though that really caught my eye. It's inspired by the Italian Renaissance and is ornately carved. It was initiated in 1515 and I'm sure was just as fantastic then. It's open to walk up and down too, so of course we did and I'm sure I wasn't the only one to imagine how this might have been in days gone by. 

My favourite view of the chateau de blois
A view back into the impressive courtyard

As we moved through the various parts of the chateau we found ourselves in a section with an exhibition of stonework and some of the gargoyles too. And it was great. There were plenty of information boards in both French and English which meant we spent a fair time exploring this area. 

Did you know that during the French Revolution of 1789 royal emblems were systematically destroyed. Which makes sense when you consider what it was about. But to restore the hammered out emblems castings were made of those found at the nearby Château of Chambord, which as a private residence fared better than the royal palaces. 

Royal emblem of Francois Ist

Having spent more time than I'll admit looking at these gargoyles my favourites are the creature sort rather than the human sort. Every time I look at the one above I see a certain Labour leader and it makes me smile, I'm not quite sure why.

A collection of gargoyles in Blois

But don't you think I should have one of these, maybe not a dog - although the one of the right above looks quite a character. Perhaps I should have a cat gargoyle, not a cute fluffy sort that wouldn't go with the ethos behind them would it. But it got me wondering, if you could commission a gargoyle, what type would you have?

A cloistered garden

The first week we were in France the weather was gorgeous and one of the warmer days coincided with the day we celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. A day after the actual date, but a cycle-free day so lunch with some bubbles was our plan. One bottle of bubbly down we hatched a plan to have a mini picnic in the pretty garden we'd walked through to get into town.

So with provisions we settled ourselves on one of the benches in what can be best described as a cloistered hedge, with this as our view for the next few hours. 

A cloistered view of Blois

Captivating isn't it?  

Through an archway of hedges

And tranquil too. And here it's easy to see what I mean about cloisters, isn't it?

Arches everywhere

The garden itself was quite formal with oblong beds full of lavender and irises, which were sadly past their best. Not by long, a week or so perhaps. But it was easy to imagine how they'd transform the place. Even as they were dying back though they had a certain charm.

The irises were just past their best

We had the garden to ourselves for much of the afternoon, which was amazing but every so often people would hurry down these stairs, across the garden and down into the lower garden using it as a very pretty cut through to the centre of town. I think it'd be a cut through I'd use regularly too.

Stairs to make a grand entrance

Just imagine the kind of entrances you could make with stairs as grand as these.  Hopefully, most of them upright too!

I decided to see where these people were heading so I followed their path through the upper part of the garden and enjoyed the glimpse of the lower garden. From the top of another set of stairs, I could see the drama of the diagonal hedges alternated with planting.

Looking down to the lower level

As I returned to the cloistered hedge I did find a couple of irises hanging on, not many though.

I did find some iris in flower though

It was wonderfully cool to sit under the cloistered canopy, and the view up was none too shabby either.  

The tree canopy was fantastic and the shade was welcome too

There were more flowers in the lower garden; foxgloves, dahlias, cosmos and more lavender, as well as a pink mystery plant.  

The foxgloves were a welcome sight
a mystery plant, but pretty
A cosmos with some support
The white flower *almost* looked out of place
a flower unfurling

And nestled among all the flowers were vistas to stunning French architecture, and of course the hedges! 

And ah what a view
hollyhocks on the way
Time to move on and we left through the lower part of the garden
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