On our mini-vacation at the end of last week there was one thing I knew I really wanted to do: visit the chateau of Azay-le-Rideau. The Loire Valley is littered with chateaus and I’ve been lucky enough to visit a handful but there remains plenty to discover. And I remember when I first learned about Azay-le-Rideau in my French art and architecture class in Grenoble – the image of this particular chateau captivated me the most.You see, it is built somewhat in the Indre river. It has water on all four sides and streams that meander through the park. So I convince husband and mother-in-law (who were eager to visit too) and we made the trip.
Before touring the chateau, we took a quick turn around the park. The rain had decided to take a break and sun peaked out once in a while. We were lucky. And even just looking around the landscape and the outbuildings, I started to notice that this place was all about perfect details. Gilding on roof pitches,decorative carving on stone borders… I’ll let to pictures show you.
When we started the tour of the chateau, we followed the signs and climbed first up the central stairs to the attic. A brilliant place to start seeing the building, we were able to peer into the soaring roofs built of timber felled in the winter of the early 1500’s. What detail and thought was put into such a thing as roof beams at the time! It is beautiful and shows such pride in the skill that has now been listed on the UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage. The semi-circle under the post seen above would have even once been decorated with a crest.
Thought and detail everywhere. The wavy pattern carved into the shutter and door panels (top right) throughout the chateau is called a linen-fold pattern, like the folds of a pressed napkin.
We all agreed that it is a beautiful chateau and one I would recommend visiting if you ever have the chance. And keep your eyes open for hidden details! You can read more about the history here or here.