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Blois France French Holidays Blois

Blois France

The sixteenth century's kings of France certainly knew how to build an impressive home, as the Chateau de Blois clearly demonstrates from its commanding position overlooking the town of Blois. It is a large stately home steeped in history, in a steep medieval town. There are lots of other chateaux, large and small, within reach of Blois, just in case you haven't exhausted yourselves by the end of this one.


Blois

Chateau de Blois is a panorama of French architecture with its four wings all built in different styles. There is the 13th century medieval wing; the Louis XII wing, built in the Flamboyant Gothic style from 1498 1503; the early Renaissance Francois Ier wing with its celebrated spiral staircase (1515 1524); finally the 17th century Classical wing. One particularly famous episode that took place at Blois was the assassination of the Duc de Guise and his brother, Cardinal de Lorraine, in the king's bedroom by Henri III's bodyguards in 1588. The Guises threatened the king's authority, which was a fairly new concept as Francois Ier only established the king's absolutism during his reign in 1515 1547, and so the king had them removed. Henri III himself was killed by a monk in 1589. Entrance to the chateau costs €8+.

The Louis XII wing now holds the Musée des Beaux Arts but it is rather unspectacular. A more interesting art museum is the Musée de l'Objet at 6 rue Franciade at the top of town, where you can see such random objects as hammers transformed into handbag sculptures for + €5.

There are three areas to go for food, depending on what you want to eat. The end of rue Vauvert on the east side of town has several crêperies and pizzerias, or the rue de la Foulérie is good for bars and ethnic eateries. For traditional French cuisine try the rue Saint Lubin and area between the chateau and the river. Les Banquettes Rouges at 16 rue des Trois Marchands (02 54 78 74 92) has French menus from €20 35. The most exciting menus in town come from the fishy Au Rendez Vous des Pecheurs, 27 rue Foix (02 54 74 67 48) which serves amazing fish dishes and has a delicious eight course + €70 menu.

Hotels in Blois are nothing exceptional but generally of a decent standard. Possibly the best value is the Hotel de France et de Guise just below the chateau (02 54 78 00 53) where the Guises used to live, with rooms from €45 65 (some with views of the chateau).