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Chinon Castle, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

Chinon is a castle located on the bank of the Vienne river in Chinon, France.

The importance of Chinon derives from its position on the bank of the Vienne river, just before it joins the Loire. From prehistoric times, the rivers of France formed the major trade routes, and the Vienne joins the fertile southern plains of the Poitou and the city of Limoges to the thoroughfare of the Loire, thus giving access to the sea at the port of Nantes on the western coast, and to the Île-de-France in the east. Chinon offers an easy crossing point by means of a central island in the Vienne, and the rocks dominating the shore provided not only a natural fort, but also protection against the annual flooding of the river.

The site appears to have been used for a Gallo-Roman castrum. Towards the end of the 4th century, a follower of St Martin, St Mexme, established first a hermitage, and then a monastery on the eastern slope of the town. This foundation flourished in the Early Middle Ages, with a large and highly decorated church, a cloister and a square of canons' residences. Unfortunately the all too familiar pattern of Huguenot damage in the sixteenth century, followed by closure and partial demolition during the Revolution of 1789 and onwards has left only a much-damaged facade and tower, although the building is now being restored as a cultural centre.

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The Château de Cheverny, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Château de Cheverny is located at Cheverny, in the département of Loir-et-Cher in the Loire Valley in France.

The lands were purchased by Henri Hurault, comte de Cheverny, a lieutenant-general and military treasurer for Louis XI, whose descendent the marquis de Vibraye is the present owner.

Lost to the Crown because of fraud to the State, it was donated by King Henri II to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. However, she preferred Château de Chenonceau and sold the property to the former owner's son, Philippe Hurault, who built the château between 1624 and 1630, to designs by the sculptor-architect of Blois, Jacques Bougier, who was trained in the atelier of Salomon de Brosse, and whose design at Cheverny recalls features of the Palais du Luxembourg. The interiors were completed by the daughter of Henri Hurault and Marguerite, marquise de Montglas, by 1650, employing craftsmen from Blois.

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The Château de Chenonceau, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Château de Chenonceau, near the small village of Chenonceaux, in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France, was built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, sometime before its first mention in writing in the 11th century. The current manor was designed by the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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The Château de Chaumont, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Château de Chaumont is a French castle. It was the first château at Chaumont-sur-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, France. It was built by Eudes II, Count of Blois, in the 10th century with the purpose of serving as a fortress to protect the Blois from attacks.

The castle was burned to the ground in 1465 in accordance with Louis XI's orders and was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465-1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498-1510, with help from his uncle, Georges d'Amboise.

Château Chaumont was later purchased by Catherine de Medici in 1560, a year after her late husband Henry II's death. She entertained numerous astrologers there, among them Nostradamus. After a short while, she forced Diane de Poitiers, Henry II's long-term mistress, to exchange Château de Chenonceau for Château de Chaumont. Diane de Poitiers only lived there for a short while.

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The Royal Château de Blois, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Royal Château de Blois is located in the Loir-et-Cher département in the Loire Valley, in France. The residence of several French kings, it is also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English from Orléans.

Built in the middle of the town that it effectively controlled, the château of Blois comprises several buildings constructed from the 13th to the 17th century around the main courtyard. Its most famous piece of architecture is the magnificent spiral staircase in the François I wing.

In 1841, under the direction of King Louis-Philippe, the Château de Blois was classified as a historic monument. It was restored under the direction of the architect Felix Duban, to whom is due the painted decoration on walls and beamed ceilings. The château was turned into a museum. On view for visitors are the supposed poison cabinets of Catherine de' Medici. Most likely this room, the "chamber of secrets," had a much more banal purpose: exhibiting precious objects for guests.

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The Château d’Angers, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Château d'Angers is a castle in the city of Angers, in the département of Maine-et-Loire, in France.

The fortress of Angers, on a rocky ridge overhanging the river Maine, was one of the sites inhabited by the Romans because of its strategic defensive location.

In the 9th century, the fortress came under the authority of the powerful Counts of Anjou, becoming part of the Angevin empire of the Plantagenet Kings of England during the 12th century. In 1204, the region was conquered by Philip II and an enormous château was built by his grandson, Louis IX ("Saint Louis") in the early part of the 13th century.

Nearly 600 m (2,000 ft) in circumference, and protected by seventeen massive towers, the walls of the château encompass 6.17 acres (25,000 m²). In 1352, John II le Bon, gave the château to his son, Louis I. Married to the daughter of the wealthy Duke of Brittany, Louis had the château modified, and in 1373 commissioned the famous Apocalypse Tapestry from the painter Hennequin de Bruges and the Parisian tapestry-weaver Nicolas Bataille.

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The château of Azay-le-Rideau, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The château of Azay-le-Rideau was built from 1518 to 1527, one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux. Built on an island in the Indre River, its foundations rise straight out of the water.

Gilles Berthelot, state treasurer of François I and mayor of Tours, began building on this already-fortified site, that was partly his wife's inheritance. However, it was she, Philippe Lesbahy, who directed the course of the works, including the novel idea of a central staircase (escalier d'honneur) that is Azay's greatest innovation. When Berthelot was suspected of collusion in embezzlement he was forced to flee from incomplete Azay-le-Rideau in 1528; he never saw the château again. Instead, the king confiscated the property and gave it as a reward to one of his high-ranking soldiers.

Over the centuries, it changed hands several times until the early part of the twentieth century, when it was purchased by the French government and restored. The interior was completely refurbished with a collection of Renaissance pieces. Today, the château is open to public visits.

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Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes, France

August 22nd, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 

The Château des ducs de Bretagne (English: Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) is a large fortified château located in the city of Nantes in the Loire-Atlantique département of France; it served as the centre of the historical province of Brittany until its separation in 1941. It is located on the right bank of the Loire, which formerly fed its ditches. It was the residence of the Dukes of Brittany between the 13th and 16th centuries, subsequently becoming the Breton residence of the French Monarchy.

The castle has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862.

Starting in the 1990s, the town of Nantes undertook a massive programme of restoration and repairs to return the site to its former glory as an emblem of the history of Nantes and Brittany. Following 15 years of works and three years of closure to the public, it was reopened on 9 February 2007 and is now a popular tourist attraction.

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