From forbidding fortresses to charming castles, the splendid structures of the Loire Valley reflect lives of intrigue and opulence.
Medieval strongholds built for defense with moats and towers gradually gave way to spectacular Renaissance pleasure palaces. Sumptuous elegance, rather than physical comfort, was the primary design principle of the châteaux. Ornamented with paintings and sculptures and surrounded by reflecting pools and perfectly manicured gardens, they make the mansions of today’s rich and famous appear austere by comparison.
Distinguished Professor of Art History, Janetta Rebold Benton, Ph.D., a former resident of Paris, showcases these romantic and historic dwellings, and sets them in the context of French history.
12–1 pm: The Days of Knights
Step into the medieval and Renaissance eras at the Château of Saumur, its depiction featured in the Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry; Sully-sur-Loire, a prison for Joan of Arc; Langeais, a medieval stronghold that became a Renaissance château; and Châteaudun, built over three centuries.
1-1 pm: A French-inspired snack break
1:30–2:30 pm: Country Life and Court Life
Visit little rural La Devinière, home of Rabelais; the Clos-Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s last home; Azay-le-Rideau, built on an island in the Indre River; and the Château Royal de Blois, a unique example of the development of French architecture from the 13th through the 17th centuries.