Château de Chambord – Loire Valley

Visiting Château de Chambord

The facade of Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley, France

Château de Chambord, the second most visited castle in the Loire region.

History lesson

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.

The hunting room, Château de Chambord, Loire Valley, France

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.

The carved, vaulted ceilings and double helix staircase of Château de Chambord, Loire Valley, France

The carved, vaulted ceilings and double helix staircase (possibly designed by da Vinci) which two people (or horses) could climb simultaneously and see each other, but never meet.

The huge view from the roof of Château de Chambord, Loire Valley, France

Part of Chambord’s rooftop terrace.


This superb, panoramic view stretches over just a small part of the castle’s 5, 540 hectares of grounds, the same size as inner Paris. The land is surrounded by 32 kms (20 miles) of tall walls making it the largest enclosed park in Europe. Visitors are free to wander 800 hectares of forests in search of boar and deer – though the chance of that is practically zero.

The elaborate roof of Château de Chambord, Loire Valley, France

Chambord roof, accessible by visitors and offering wonderful views.

The roof is an eccentric mish-mash of styles, with eleven differing towers asymmetrically placed, including flamboyant Gothic, Italian Renaissance and French Jenesaispas. François’ initial design requirement was that the roof should look like the skyline of Constantinople (Istanbul) i. e. spiky.

One of the Chambord’s external activities, along with cycling and walking.


The bugcrew were delighted by Chambord’s elaborate exterior views but disappointed by its limited interior offerings, though it is possible we were suffering from château (and cycle) fatigue at this point.