Visiting Château de Chambord
Château de Chambord, the second most visited castle in the Loire region.
Francis I only spent 77 days at his vast ‘hunting lodge’. His right royal accommodation was, in fact, a few kilometres away at both Château de Blois and Château d’Amboise.
The château started life as a hunting lodge in 1519 built on behalf of young King Francois I, but became progressively more excessive during construction, ending up with 426 rooms, 77 staircases and plenty of innovative Italian architecture, including a bizarre double spiral staircase that was probably designed by Francis’ good buddy, Leonardo da Vinci who was living the latter years of his life in another Loire chateau, Clos Lucé, as permanent guest of Francois.
Chambord’s hunting room.
Chambord was constructed for short hunting trips and not practical for full time living as large, high rooms and open windows meant heating was ineffective. Also, as the castle had no adjacent village there were no servants or food source – apart from wild game – nearby. During Francois’ life the castle was totally unfurnished and on the few occasions when he visited his retinue brought everything they needed – which was a lot- with them.
In 1549 the château was still unfinished and it took two more French kings, Henry II and Louis XIV to finish the job.