After our disappointing stay at Lac des Varennes and given that the weather was turning cooler too, we thought it might be a good idea to visit another château on the Loire Valley further south and our first choice was Beauregard, just south of Blois, for we were both keen to see the large collection of portraits this château is most famous for. We arrived after 2 pm due to our unplanned late departure from the campsite and, as we still hadn’t had lunch, we decided to leave our visit to the château until the morning, only to find out the next day that it didn’t open until 1.30 pm. Not wanting to waste a whole morning, we drove a short distance south of Beauregard to Cheverny, which turned out to be an absolute delight.
Le Château de Cheverny is amongst the most highly reputed and most frequently visited châteaux of the Loire and it was one of the first to open to the public in 1922. Its splendour largely resides in it original architecture that has remained intact since its construction between 1625 and 1634. It has belonged to the same family for 6 centuries, Les Hurault, renown for their services to several kings of France from Louis XII onwards.
It was a struck of good luck that we decided to visit this time of year as, being early autumn and nearing harvest time and Halloween, many rooms, the grounds and the superb kitchen garden were decorated with seasonal produce like pumpkins, squash, and gourds, giving the whole place a beautiful and colourful autumnal feel, full of imagination, originality, charm and fun.
On entering the château grounds, we were greeted by this amusing character and we just knew we were in for a treat.
Once inside, the first thing that caught my eye was the 16th century suit of armour, weighing 25 kg, on the landing of the main staircase of Louis XIII style and, above it, the 6,000 year-old horns of ‘cervus megaceros’ (ancestor of the elan), found in Siberia 200 years ago. I couldn’t quite get over the ancient age of such magnificent specimen: If that hasn’t got the WOW factor, I don’t know what has.
Continuing our tour, we found some of the rooms had not only their original furniture and furnishing, but also a number of large Lego figures to delight all, young and old, and it had me reminiscing about our many hours of Lego building with our son until he was practically grown up!
And I couldn’t stop myself from taking a photo of that most famous of kings, Louis XIV, especially after having enjoyed the series of Versailles so much in recent weeks. Truth be told, I spent quite a long time admiring all the portraits in the Grand Salon, the Gallery and the Portrait Room as they were nothing short of exquisite.
And of course, there is always the grandiose pieces of furniture and I was taken by this commode Louis XV, stamped Schlichtig.
Another unusual fixture of Cheverny Château that we had never seen before was the large kennel, home to around 100 pedigreed French Three-colour hounds as the château is still a hunting base: simply magnificent. The dogs bear the initial ‘V’ for Vibraye (The Marquis and Marquise de Vibraye, the current inhabitants of the château and descendants of the Hurault) on the right-hand side, a mark trimmed with scissors during hunting season.
The delightful surprises continued outside, in the grounds round the back leading to the Orangerie and in the kitchen garden, where every plot was a marvel to behold. Here are some of the stunning seasonal displays, but any which way you turned was a gift to the eye.
Needless to say, we left the Château de Cheverny utterly enchanted and wondering what other treasures we would find along the way…