Loire Valley Castles. Blois castle

Last Updated on 16/03/2024

Blois Castle (Chateau de Blois) was actively used, unlike Chambord. 7 kings and 10 queens lived here. This is an impressive complex with premises from different eras and different styles. In the summer, theatrical performances are held in the castle courtyard. And in the evenings there is the Son et Lumiere light show.

Loire Castles. Blois region attractions map
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How to get to Blois castle

40 minutes from Tours by train. From Paris from the Austerlitz train station it takes one and a half to two hours.

A little history

In medieval manuscripts, Blois bears the Latin name Blesum (also Blesis and Blesa). From the 15th century, it changed in Blaisois. When the ancient count’s family died out in the male line, the County of Blois passed by marriage contract to the house of Chatillon, whose last descendant sold his possessions to the son of Charles 5, Duke Louis of Orleans (1391).

Louis d’Orléans and his wife, Valentina Visconti of Milan, began the collection of books and documents that would later form the famous palace library, enriched with treasures from Milan and Naples. Under the grandson of Louis d’Orléans, King Louis XII, Blois came into royal possession in 1498.

Louis 12 was the first crowned owner of the palace and began construction of a new wing. He often decided on the most important state matters in the castle. On January 15, 1499, an alliance was concluded here between France and Venice, and on March 14, 1513, an offensive and defensive alliance was concluded against the Pope and the Emperor.

After the death of Louis 12, Francis 1 often came to the castle and also began to expand it to accommodate a large retinue. Under Francis, famous poets, artists and architects lived in the palace, including Benvenuto Cellini.

During the religious wars, Catherine de Medici, the widow of Henry 2, continued to lead the same lifestyle – she organized numerous feasts in Loire Valley castles.

After St. Bartholomew’s Night, the Loire Valley castles were abandoned for three years. Henry 3 was forced to retire to Blois, leaving Paris to Duke Henri de Guise. A conspiracy arose to eliminate Henry 3, but he was warned. The Duke of Guise was invited to Blois, where he was killed. A few days later, Catherine died in the palace, and six months later Jacques Clement killed Henry 3.

In the 17th century The castle became a place of exile for Gaston d’Orléans. He built the wing opposite the Louis 12th wing in the classicist style. During the revolution, the castle was plundered.
In December 1870, Blois was occupied by Prussian troops and remained in their hands until a preliminary peace treaty was concluded. In the 20th century the palace was restored.

Blois Castle

As we can easily see from the history of the castle, we should not expect a significant number of interiors here. Not a single castle benefits from revolution and troops. However, there is also something interesting here.

The castle is based on a medieval fortress from the 10th century. This can be clearly seen in the photographs above. A 13th century Gothic hall has been preserved from it. It is the largest Gothic hall in France.

The palace became royal starting from Louis 12. Under him, a wing was built in the style of Flamboyant Gothic, which serves as the facade of the palace. An equestrian statue of Louis 12 on the portal above the entrance greets visitors.

The Louis 12 wing and the Gothic hall are in the corner on the right. If you look from the courtyard, the Gothic hall will be on the corner between the wing of Louis 12 and Francis 1.

Looking from the side of the yard. Wing of Louis 12.

Under Francis 1, a new wing was built – in the style of the Renaissance.

Francis wing outside, from the city. It is continued on the right by the wing of Gaston d’Orléans. He already built in the style of classicism.

Loire Valley Castles Blois castle

Wing of Francis 1 inside.

What can we see inside the Blois castle?

Gothic Hall of the States General (13th century). The hall was used for judicial decisions by the Counts of Blois. Under Henry III, the Estates General met here twice (1576 and 1588). The hall has retained its original structure. The painting was made based on the medieval one in the 19th century.

From the original 13th century castle the tower du Foix has also been preserved, on a terrace overlooking the city.

In the wing of Louis 12 (late 15th – early 16th century). The first floor of the royal apartments was in the 19th century converted into the Blois Art Museum. The collection represents works from the 16th to the 19th centuries, including French and Flemish tapestries.

Chapel of the St. Calais was also built by Louis 12th.

In the wing of Francis 1 (1515-1524). Wing Francis 1 was built on the basis of a 13th century fortress, and its two-meter thick walls are partially preserved inside.

You can see

  • apartments of Francis 1 and then Catherine de Medici,
  • royal hall – a hall used for ceremonies,
  • guard hall – weapons from the 15th to 17th centuries are displayed here,
  • royal bedroom – the bedroom of Catherine de Medici, in which she died in 1589,
  • study room – this room retains the decoration of the 1520s (the interior is made in the form of carved wooden panels). Catherine de Medici built hiding places in the walls – according to legend, for storing poisons, in reality, most likely for storing jewelry.

The next floor is associated with the murder of the Duke of Guise. Paintings from the Hall of Guise (19th century) tell the story of the religious wars and the assassination of the Duke of Guise. According to legend, the murder took place in the next room, the so-called king’s bedroom.

And this is what the show looks like.

What else to see in Blois besides the Blois castle

Besides the castle, the old district in the city is worth a walk. It is located around the castle and the church of Eglise Saint Nicolas. The most interesting street is rue Saint-Lubin with houses from the 15th and 16th centuries. It is also worth visiting the Cathedral of St. Louis.

Eglise Saint Nicolas

For those who are tired of endless Loire Valley castles, horse-drawn carriages ride around the city.

The bridge over the Loire, which is very wide here, was built at the beginning of the 18th century.

For entertainment, there is the Museum of Magic next to the palace.

Loire Castles. Blois region attractions map
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Around Chenonceau: attractions map from Amboise to Loches
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Around Chinon: Loire Valley map from Tours to Angers
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Pink granite coast (Cote de granit rose)
Brittany Crozon Peninsula, Locronan

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