Visit Chateau de Blois in the Loire Valley
Chateau de Blois tourism, attractions and sights of interest
The Chateau de Blois sits in the centre of the lovely town of Blois. It is called the Royal chateau of Blois because it was a favourite residence of 7 kings and 10 queens of France!
Explore the Chateau Royal de Blois
The Chateau de Blois sits on the edge of a large square slightly raised up from the town of Blois and so offering great views over the town and the Loire river below. From the outside the chateau has the look of a large red-brick manor house though with the addition of the statue of King Louis XII seated on a horse and also a carved porcupine which was his royal emblem.
Passing through the gateway you enter a large courtyard surrounded on all 4 sides by the chateau and each wing was built in a different period of history and has a different architectural style.
The medieval fortress has its origins in the 10th century but this wing was largely built in the 13th century in Gothic style. Inside it's seignorial hall is the largest Gothic hall in France from the early 13th century. Next came the Louis wing built from 1498-1501 in Flamboyant style. This wing has lots of arched arcades and is built in red-brick.
The Renaissance wing was built soon after the Louis wing in 1515-1520. The beautiful staircase is one of the most notable features of this wing. The Gaston d'Orleans wing was added in 1635-1638 and is built in Classsical style.
A little history of the Chateau de Blois
The Chateau de Blois has witnessed more than one notable historical events, including the stay in Blois of Joan of Arc (1412-1431), and the murder of the Duke of Guise (1550-1588), by Henry III (1551-1589). The castle of Blois was also the place of exile of Marie de Medici (1545-1642).
Later, it was with Gaston d'Orleans (1608-1660) that the castle reached its social high point, and also at this time the botanic gardens were added. This period had beneficial effects for Blois itself, which saw the beginning of a new and fervent construction activity, and the birth of the Jesuit College and monasteries.
The Castle of Blois has undergone several renovations over the centuries, but the dominant styles are Gothic and Renaissance. The castle is square, and it has a large central courtyard at the entrance, from which you can see very well the variety of styles of the ancient fortress (the gothic, typically medieval structures, Renaissance and, finally, classical features).
The oldest part of Blois castle, dating from the thirteenth century, is also the most interesting with the famous ‘Hall of the General States’, used by the Counts of Blois as a courtroom. The salon has two aisles, with a double barrel-vaulted ceiling and numerous columns and arches. The tapestries on the walls date back to the 17th and 18th century.
On the second floor there is the room built by Louis XII, in Gothic flamboyant style, which includes the rooms of the King, in pale stone and red brick. It was here that the murder of the Duke of Guise took place, under the orders of Henry III.
Today this part of the castle houses the Museum of Fine Arts, which keeps an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Among the many works, note the famous painting by Lavinia Fontana [1552-1614] (‘the hairy girl’).
The Renaissance part of the castle was built by Francis I and it reflects the Italian style of the time; the most characteristic feature of this wing of the castle is the staircase, and the loggia is decorated with the famous salamanders, the insignia of Francis I.
Inside the tower, on a hexagonal plan, stands the majestic spiral staircase. In this wing there are many boardrooms, among them being the hall of honour, famous for the original furnishings and the richly decorated fireplace.
Another main wing was built in the seventeenth century by F. Mansart in a classical architectural style using three orders of arches with an eclectic mix of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian style. Beside the fortress stands the Chapel of St. Calais, commissioned by Louis XII, which over the centuries also underwent serious damages.
Blois is in the heart of the Loire Valley and very close to many of the famous Loire Valley chateaux. The Chateau de Cheverney has some of the best chateau interiors and has pretty gardens. The majestic Chateau de Chambord and Chateau de Chaumont, home to the Chaumont-sur-Loire International garden festivalare also close by.
Map of Chateau de Blois & places nearby
Castle Town village