Friday, May 17, 2013

Chateau de Chenonceau of the Loire Valley

Welcome to Anita's France Link party!
Click above and travel to her blog to see the list of those playing
and, for the next week, you can visit any site
AND their petite tranche of France. 

The Loire Valley has over 300 castles amid quiet, historic villages. 
Called 'The Garden of France,' it is known for its bucolic beauty, historical castles and its wine. 
The area hosts several wine regions you may have heard of:
Muscadet, Sancerre, Pouilly Fume.
A few years ago, when we began our year off in Paris,
one of the first places we were told we must visit
was the Loire Valley.
And specifically, CHENONCEAU! 

Built along the River Cher sometime before its first documentation in the 11th century,
it is a historical storybook on French nobility. 

Once the site of an old mill,
it was designed by Philibert de l'Orme,
a French architect and master of French Renaissance.
At one time, while in royal favor, 
De l'Orme supervised the work of Fontainebleau and the Tuileries, among others. 

 Chateau de Chenonceau was bought by King Charles VIII of France in 1513,
then seized from an indebted heir by King Francis I
and upon his death, passed on to Henry II.
Henry made the chateau un cadeau to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers,

(via Wiki)

who fell in love with it, making it her own and supervising the installation 
of ample flower and vegetable gardens and an assortment of fruit trees.

She had the elegant arched bridge built, 
connecting the two sides of the river,
which became known as the Pont de Diane. 

Upon Henry II's wounding during a jousting accident in 1559,
which would eventually kill him,
his wife, Catherine de Medici, refused Diane access to the dying King,
though it is said he repeatedly called out for her.
And upon the King's death, Catherine refused to allow her to attend the funeral
and forced Diane out of her beloved Chenonceau and into the Chateau Chaumont 
where she lived only a few years.

Catherine, by the way, moved in. 

(Catherine de Medici via Wiki)


Join me for a quick peek inside Chenonceau. 


File:Ch√Ęteau-de-chenonceau galerie 1er.JPG
(The Gallery via Wiki) 

The Gallery, which also served as ballroom and was built by Catherine in 1576,
sits over the Pont de Diane
and was dedicated in honor of Catherine's son, Henry III.

My favorites in any chateau are always the fireplaces...

(Diane de Poitiers bedroom fireplace via Wiki)

the kitchen...

And the bedroom... for a peek into their lives. 

The above was known as the Five Queens bedroom
for Catherine de Medici's two daughters and three daughters-in-law.

(Bedroom of Diane de Poitiers via Wiki)

When we returned to visit the following May,
sharing with visiting family,
it happened to be near Mother's Day
and every room was filled with blossoms for the moms.

Beautiful arrangements for a stunning setting.

During Catherine's stay, 
it became a place of many parties
and was the site of the first-ever fireworks display in France
for her son's ascension to the throne (Francis II). 

In the 1700's, Madame Louise Dupin
(also the grandmother of George Sand),
entertained figures of The Enlightenment
including Voltaire and Rousseau~
and at least one owner came to financial ruin 
by way of too many lavish and extravagant parties. 

Today it is the most visited chateau in France (next to Versaille)
and is owned by the Menier Family famous for chocolate. 

I have to agree that Chenonceau is a France Must-See
and even though our little virtual tour has been fun, 
it doesn't do justice to this remarkable place 
filled with the rooms and halls of past voices of kings, mistresses, 
jealous wives and party revelers from history. 

Remember to visit Anita's Castles Crowns and Cottages 
to enjoy so many other blogs on France this week. 

This week, enjoy La Vie Francaise.

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen
unless from wiki)

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Seine et Paris Plages

The Seine, Paris' romantic waterway--and probably most widely-known river throughout the world, 
runs 482 miles from Source-Seine near Dijon 
through Paris all the way into the English Channel 
near Le Havre and Honfleur. 

The average depth runs about 9 1/2 meters 
and periodic flooding creates great concern
regarding Paris' many artworks stored underground.

It is said that Joan of Arc's ashes were thrown into the Seine from Rouen.
And every summer since 2002, the Paris Plages 
brings truckloads of sand to its banks:
instant beach fun for city dwellers.

Thirty seven bridges span the Seine in Paris alone.
Some people have their favorites in the city.
Mine happens to be whichever one I'm on.

We sometimes take a walk to our Bir Hakim Bridge 
(formerly the Pont de Passy) with friends
--at just the right time--
to share a bottle of bubbly and the hourly evening shimmering lights of the Eiffel Tower.

There is nothing like strolling the banks of the Seine
with its cobblestone walkways and docked boats often used as hotel rooms,
perusing the local book- and art- sellers like in the shot above.

This year the Paris Plages begins July 20 
and runs for four weeks. 
For more information, see the Mairie de Paris website
which also shares a panoramique of photos.

Last one in the, skip that part! 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A single flower~Buddhist Thought for the Day

"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
our whole life would change." 

I feel this sometimes like the ripple of a fish that has jumped but you missed it
and all that's left is the tiny portal through which it came and went and,
in a split moment, is gone and you wonder if it actually happened.

The beauty of our every day world gets so lost in the hustle and kerfuffle
of worries about money, jobs, lack of time
(not since I was a teenager has it been about too much time),
those 'time-saving' techno-gadgets and their constant maladies
and the physical energy for handling and maintaining all of the above.

So take a moment,
gaze at a flower.
It's that perfect season, they're everywhere.
See it for what it is...
a miracle.
Then find more of them in your world.
I promise,
you won't have to look far.
Just tap your sparkly red shoes.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)