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I have to start this blog by confessing that I absolutely hate going to the Chateau at Versailles. It holds a similar place in my mind as the Louvre and the Champs Elysees. The chateau in and of itself is fascinating but the throngs of people that come by the busload from Paris to visit and the long, snaking lines for the ticket windows makes the experience less than pleasant for someone who is not particularly fond of crowds. I am even less fond of them when you combine large groups of people from around the world who have very different ideas of what constitutes a line. That being said I have been to Versailles three times, once the first time I ever visited Paris and twice since I have lived here with company. I suspect my visit in April was my last and I am okay with that.

So, while we now know that Louis XIV intended to have Fouquet arrested before the magnificent party was thrown at Vaux le Vicomte we also know that upon seeing the amazing chateau and gardens at Vaux Louis felt that as king he needed an even more magnificent chateau and gardens to be his home.

Like most of the great chateaux in France Versailles started out as a hunting lodge that was built upon over the years to become the structure we see today. Construction on the chateau to make it the seat of Louis XIV reign began in 1664 and construction was continuously being done through 1788. Lucky for Louis his betrayed friend Fouquet had already done a lot of work for him in identifying the best artists of the time to design and build not only the chateau but the spectacular gardens surrounding Versailles. Le Notre, the famous French designer of gardens is being celebrated throughout this year as it is his 400th anniversary. In addition to designing the gardens at Versailles and Vaux le Vicomte he is also responsible for the gardens at Fontainebleu and Chantilly (where we will visit last).

Louis was crowned king at the age of 5 after the death of his father. To this day he is the longest serving monarch in history having served for just over 72 years. His rule was that of absolute monarchy and therefore believed fully in the divine right of kings. France thrived under Louis’ reign and was the leading power in Europe during the time. All of Louis’ immediate heirs predeceased him and upon his death he was followed onto the thrown by his great-grandson Louis XV.

After Louis XIV’s father’s death the upper nobility of France, all located in Paris, plotted an ill conceived rebellion against the royal family known as the Fronde. Queen Anne of Austria (Louis’ mother) was forced to flee Paris in the middle of the night with Louis and her younger son and sought refuge in the chateau at Saint Germain en Laye. It is speculated that Louis never forgot this humiliation and moved his court to Versailles for two reasons – because of the Fronde he hated Paris and he felt that at Versailles he could more easily spot traitors.

As you walk through the Chateau you are overwhelmed by the opulence. Everywhere you look is a spectacular painting, sculpture or piece of furniture. While the size of these chateaux borders on ridiculous it is important to note that the king and his family alone did not live there. The chateaux throughout France were the homes to other members of the aristocracy in high positions with the king and as travel was so cumbersome in those days it was also the temporary home of dignitaries from around the world. And of course we cannot forget the thousands of servants needed for the upkeep and care of not only the chateau and its gardens but also its inhabitants.

The most amazing part of Versailles is the famous Hall of Mirrors or in French the Galerie des Glaces. All seventeen mirrors and windows in the Hall of Mirrors look out on the gardens and the kings own apartments are just off the hall. On June 28, 1919 the Hall of Mirrors was used to sign the Treaty of Versailles thus ending the Great War, World War I.

Versailles, like the Louvre, is a place that on your first visit to France is a must see. You can skip it and go to Fontainebleu as you will encounter fewer lines and still get to see a spectacular palace, but in the end I think Versailles is a must see. If nothing else you need to see the gardens. We will return to Versailles again before we finish our journeys through French history. As we approach the French revolution we will go back to Versailles to see the Petit Trianon, the home of Marie-Antoinette. Thankfully though on that trip we can skip the lines and chaos of “the big house” and meander through the gardens to Marie’s hamlet. But, until then we have several more stops to make both inside Paris and out.

Next stop – Maintenon

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I love Ina Caro and her book “Paris to the Past’ but sometimes I think she and I view things from very different perspectives. When I arrived in Melun her book (and frankly the Vaux le Vicomte website) gave me the impression that the chateau was either accessible by bus or walkable. Ina notes the chateau as being roughly 6km (3.6 miles), it is in fact 9 km (5.4 miles) and therefore not walkable, at least not for me on that hot day. Furthermore, there is no shuttle bus. So, as I was standing in the middle of this little train station trying to figure out what to do I saw a number for a taxi. Hating to speak on the phone in French (don’t ask me why, I don’t know) I called and a taxi was there within five minutes. As we drove to the chateau I realized I could not have walked even if I wanted to as the route was almost all along a highway.

Vaux le Vicomte is tucked away down a beautiful, tree lined street, and there is absolutely nothing else around it. I have been to many chateaux in France, both for this book and otherwise, and while I still have two more to see I can say with certainty up until know this is the most beautiful chateau I have visited. The chateau itself, the way it is situated on the land, the gardens, fountains and forests, just make this particular chateau magical. It is a complete pain in the neck to get to (and expensive! the taxi was 40 euros round trip) it is well worth the effort of the visit.

Vaux le Vicomte was built by Nicolas Fouquet in 1661. Fouquet was the Minister of Finance under Louis XIV. The gardens at Vaux were designed by the not yet famous Le Notre who would later gain fame by designing the magnificent gardens at Versailles. Fouquet became the young protege of the Cardinal Mazarin who under his guidance taught him the art of embezzlement. In addition to using these extra funds to build one of the most magnificent chateaux in all of France Fouquet was also famous for identifying artistic talent and bankrolled the likes of Moliere and La Fontaine. Moliere would regularly stage productions of his famous plays at Vaux. While Fouquet certainly had a talent for embezzling funds his real talent lay in identifying artistic talent, supporting the arts and artists young and old.

It is said that Fouquet was a great lover of beauty, the arts, and women and that he was unusually handsome and charming. One of his closest confidants was none other than the King’s mother, Anne of Austria. He also remained in the King’s good graces for a lengthy period of time as he was charming and intelligent. “He loved to argue in Latin with Jesuit philosophers, discuss the latest scientific and philosophic ideas with the greatest minds of seventeenth- century France, and gather around his table the greatest artists and most talented authors, a place where the food, served on gold plates, was cooked by Vatel, the greatest of chefs.”

Fouquet was so proud of his beloved Vaux le Vicomte that on August 17, 1661 he hosted an enormous party for the King at the estate. The party included fireworks and the debut of Molier’s newest play ‘Les Fâcheux’. Food was again served on gold plates and the wine and champagne flowed freely. Fouquet no doubt went to bed that evening thinking the entire event a huge success. The party, in celebration and honour of the King, went off splendidly and Louis XIV gave lavish praise to Fouquet on his beautiful home.

There are numerous accounts of the events following the party but one thing we do know is that a few short weeks after the event Louis XIV had Nicolas Fouquet arrested for fraud and embezzlement. Some say that an overly ambitious politician, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who wanted the post of Finance Minister, turned Louis against Fouquet by pointing out that in no way could the finance minister afford such luxury if he was not stealing money from the state. Others will tell you that Louis was so jealous of Vaux and the magnificent lifestyle Fouquet had created that Louis had him arrested for no other reason than showing up the King. Most historians will tell you, however, that it was Cardinal Mazarin himself that betrayed Fouquet confessing on his deathbed to the king that he and Fouquet had been embezzling funds. The tour at Vaux neatly skips over the fact that Fouquet was stealing money. Fouquet himself admitted to embezzlement so there is no need to glance over it. It was fairly commonplace for the ministers of France to skim money off the top so while it was certainly a punishable offence it was usually ignored. Colbert himself had a rather elaborate chateau in Saint Germain en Laye.

Colbert was in Paris while the party took place on August 17, 1661 making arrangements for Fouquet’s arrest. It is unlikely that Louis had him arrested because he was jealous of the chateau at Vaux but it certainly sealed his fate.

Fouquet was sentenced to life in prison at the infamous Pignerol fortress deep in the Alps. The cold, dark, damp surrounding of his cell had to be torture enough given the beauty he surrounded himself with at Vaux. His family was unable to visit him and it is rumoured that his treatment while at Pignerol was the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas’ “The Man in the Iron Mask.”

The party at Vaux le Vicomte took place when Louis XIV was a mere twenty two years old. Next we will go to the opulent chateau he built, using many of the same artisans that built and designed Vaux le Vicomte, and learn how his leadership evolved through the years.

Next Stop – Versailles Chateau

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La Rochelle is an ocean side town that is about a four hour drive southwest of Paris or about three hours by train. It is the only stop in the book that is more than an hour and half outside of Paris but it is well worth the trip. I highly recommend an overnight for La Rochelle as it is actually more beautiful by night than by day but it is magical no matter what time of day you visit.

I have been to La Rochelle before – twenty years before to be exact. During my very first trip to France my friend Eric brought me here and two things always stayed in my mind – the medieval towers guarding the harbour and the oysters. Twenty years later I remember loving this village and my return visit did not disappoint.

Up until 1621 La Rochelle was an extremely wealthy and independent mercantile center that would frequently change its allegiances from France to England and back to France. This was not uncommon for independent towns and with each shift of allegiance it was granted more and more autonomy to sweeten the pot of changing nationalities. The city was virtually attack proof with its walls protecting it from a land attack and its foreboding towers protecting the harbour.

As France became more of a nation and less of a group of feudal territories it became more important that independent entities like La Rochelle turn its allegiance to the nation of France. The quest to unite France was led by Cardinal Richelieu, a ruthless man of the cloth that inflicted positive horror on this seaside village. Historians note that it was not only Richelieu’s desire to unite France but also his newly found company, in direct competition with the merchants of La Rochelle, that led him to seize the city. It should also be noted that France at the time was split between Catholics and Protestants (the Huguenots), and La Rochelle was mostly protestant. As you will recall the Protestant King Henry IV was assassinated by a Catholic zealot in 1610, followed onto the thrown by the Catholic King Louis XIII. This also contributed to the tensions leading up to the siege.

There is a lot of back history here that is too in depth and lengthy for a blog (there are whole books written about each one of the events leading up to the siege!) – these events include Henry of Navarre’s (King Henry IV) battles against the Catholic League, the Edict of Nantes in 1598, a plot to have Richelieu assassinated, the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre, and Elinor of Aquitaine’s decision to turn the marshes around La Rochelle into the beautiful harbour we see today. But suffice it to say that in 1627 the Rochellais had no idea what hit them when Richelieu not only surrounded the city by land but also brought in a fleet of ships to drop large stones overboard to create a dike barring any ships from entering or leaving La Rochelle’s harbour. No food could enter the city and none of its inhabitants could leave.

While Richelieu oversaw the siege from the sea none other than that famous Museketeer D’Artagnan was responsible for the land siege. Yes, D’Artagnan was real and not just a fictional character from Dumas’ imagination. Unfortunately D’Artagnan was killed during one of the battles for La Rochelle but lives on in the pages of Dumas’ books!

So, what happened to La Rochelle and its inhabitants during the siege? Over a fourteen month period the Rochellais refused to surrender, not only starving to death day by day but having to endure watching Richelieu and his men promenade and dine on the dike he made to seal them into the city. Finally, on October 2, 1628 the citizens of La Rochelle surrendered. 28, 000 of its 33, 000 inhabitants had starved to death.

La Rochelle is not only rich in history but it is truly one of the prettiest places on France’s Atlantic coast. It is surrounded by small islands accessible by ferry (the most famous being Ile de Re), and is world renowned for its amazing seafood. The people of La Rochelle are lovely (as the French tend to be once you get out of Paris), and this city is well worth a visit on your next trip to France.

We are now at the end of our time in the French Renaissance and are moving into the days of one of France’s most famous Kings – Louis XIV, the Sun King.

Next Stop – Vaux le Vicomte

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Paris is a remarkable city for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that everyday, in every section of the city, you can walk by centuries old buildings and never know the history that lies inside its walls. As I prepare to move back to the US and settle in Boston I find myself explaining to my European friends that Boston is the most European of all the cities in the US, there is a lot of history there. The words always leave my mouth before I realize how silly that must sound to people who live in a city that has buildings dating back to the 1100’s. The city would probably house even older structures if the majority of it had not been razed by Haussmann and Napoleon III in the late 1800’s.

The Hotel de Sens is one of these buildings that you could walk past a thousand times and never realize the rich history and stories it has to tell. Built in 1474 it was given to Marguerite de Valois after her divorce from Henry IV. Originally it was the medieval residence of the Archbishop of Sens. In the back of the building is a lovely little garden with beautiful roses and a wonderful place to bring a book and relax, or you think this until you hear how Margot put this garden to use. Margot was known for having numerous love affairs – her last ending with the beheading of the Count of Vermond in the above mentioned garden after he killed one of her other lovers in a fit of rage. The Hotel de Sens now houses a library but little is left of the original interior. It is definitely worth a walk by, however, and a peak in the gardens where the poor count lost his head.

More famous than the Hotel de Sens but still frequently overlooked by visitors to Paris is the Place des Vosges. The Place de Vosges, as Ina Caro points out, could be considered “the first urban renewal project in Paris.” Once the religious wars came to an end Henry sat down with his financial adviser and learned the country was 3 million livres in debt. He decided that he would introduce silk manufacturing to France and built the Place de Vosges to be the headquarters of this new industry. Once the structure was built, however, it quickly became apparent that more money could be made by renting out its apartments as the Marais district then, like now, was the fashionable place to live. In addition to his many affairs Henry IV is also credited with the beautification of Paris. He is also responsible for building Pont Neuf (New Bridge) which is ironic seeing as it is the oldest bridge in Paris. If you can imagine it the bridges crossing the Seine were originally covered with shops and homes. This was the first bridge built in Paris for the sole purpose of transport. So, while the Place des Vosges did not house Henry’s dream of bringing the heart of the silk industry to France it did succeed in housing aristocrats and more importantly in being one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris.

No visit to Paris is complete without a trip to the jardin du Luxembourg. It is said of a lot of parks that they are an urban oasis and Luxembourg is no exception. Its beautifully laid out flowers, trees, fountains and statues are well worth the several hours you could spend here. The ample seating (with accompanying footstools) makes it a fantastic place on a sunny day to just go sit with a book and get lost in the story on the pages or the stories unfolding around you as what seems like all of Paris wanders by. Throughout the garden you will see a large palace, the Luxembourg Palace, built in 1611 by Marie de Medici (Henry IV’s widow) to resemble the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. Marie added land to her already sumptuous gardens surrounding the palace creating the present day space. The palace at Luxembourg is now home to the French senate.

These three visits in Paris are all connected to Henry IV and his vision of making Paris the most beautiful city in the world. Personally, I think he succeeded. Sadly, Henry was assassinated on May 14, 1610 in his carriage while stuck in a traffic jam (yes, even then Paris was known for its traffic). Henry was a Protestant and his assassin was a Catholic fanatic.

We are coming to the end of our time in the Renaissance and Reformation of France. Our next stop at La Rochelle will bridge us into the 17th Century and the Age of Louis XIV, the Sun King.

Next Stop – La Rochelle

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As we continue through the Renaissance it is time to visit the charming French village of Fontainebleau. The town in and of itself is worth a day trip from Paris but while wandering the streets there is no missing the imposing structure that is the Chateau at Fontainebleau.

I drove to Fontainebleu with my parents during their recent visit and I have to confess that I really miss having a car. I love that everything is so accessible by train in France but your days can be so much more flexible with a car! We took the 45 minute drive south east and arrived on yet another gray and rainy spring day. The weather in France has been dreadful since October which is unfortunate because so many of these places we are visiting have magnificent gardens that are far better showcased on a nice sunny day.

The chateau at Fontainebleau has been in use since the 12th century but the structure as we see it now is the work of Francis I and more notably, Napoleon. Like most of the French chateaux this one started out as a humble little hunting lodge (please note the tone of sarcasm). While Francis tore down the original structure and rebuilt what we see today the entire chateau really just looms with the ghost of Napoleon. His imperial N emblem and his golden eagles are everywhere and the first thing you see upon entering the main courtyard is the magnificent horseshoe staircase where Napoleon bid farewell to his troops before his exile to Elba.

After Napoleon crowned himself emperor he decided that the chateau at Malmaison (we will be visiting there shortly) was just not opulent enough and he and Josephine should move to Francis’ grand chateau at Fontainebleu. Unfortunately for Napoleon, like most places in France associated with the monarchy, it was looted during the revolution and he found a grand house with not a single piece of furniture or artwork in it. I think this is why Fontainebleu feels so much more like Napoleon’s home over Francis, he had it restored and furnished in his taste and to reflect his era.

Ina Caro describes Napoleon’s Fontainebleu like this – “As you walk through its rooms, you see where he first announced his intention to crown himself emperor; where he told Josephine that they were to be divorced; where he learned that he was, at last, to be a father through his second wife, the Empress Marie-Louise; where, after Waterloo, he learned that is generals had deserted him; where he abdicated; where he said farewell to his faithful Old Guard.” As you can see a lot of Napoleon’s history happened right here in this chateau.

One fact about the chateau I find particularly fascinating and mind boggling at the same time. During both Francis I and Napoleon’s reign they would move between chateaux in the region. Each autumn Francis and Napoleon would move into Fontainebleu with their entire court – this means that each autumn roughly 15, 000 courtiers and 3,000 servants would descend upon the village and the chateau. Can you imagine that many people moving about in a time with no trains let alone cars!

Lest we should forget about Francis I altogether it should be noted that he is chiefly responsible for bringing the Renaissance to France by importing paintings by the greatest Italian artists of the day. He event invited Leonardo da Vinci to stay at Fontainebleu.

Soon we will be visiting the great Chateau at Versailles. I will return to Versailles for a third (and hopefully final) visit to follow the book and this blog. If you have to choose between visiting Versailles and Fontainebleu I would advise you to head to Francis and Napoleon’s home over Louis’. The crowds at Fontainebleu are far more manageable and the town of Fontainebleau is much cuter than Versailles.

As we continue through the Renaissance in France we will next find ourselves wandering the streets of Paris.

Next stop – The Hotel de Sens, the Places des Vosges and the Luxembourg Gardens

Now that I am moving back to the US at the end of June I find myself in constant tourist mode. I am trying to wrap up the travel in ‘Paris to the Past’ but also trying to visit other places in France and Europe that have long been on my list. This is a little challenging as I am still working full time and have a lot of company in town between now and the time I leave. One solution to this is to start bringing my company along which is what I plan on doing when my parents arrive next week! For now though I have set off alone for the medieval city of Blois in the Loire River Valley.

The journey to Blois starts at Gare d’Austerlitz in Paris and is the same train you can take to Orleans and Tours. The journey south to Blois is beautiful as you go past miles and miles of fields covered in yellow flowers. The French countryside is truly some of the most beautiful land you will ever see anywhere and I am grateful that I have had an opportunity to see so much of it both through the travels for this book and otherwise.

The main goal of our visit to Blois is to visit the 16th Century Chateau there. The previous chateaux we have visited (Angers, Vincennes and even the Louvre) were first and foremost defensive structures. They were built with the primary purpose of keeping the people inside the walls safe and keeping those outside the walls from getting inside. Moats, arrow slits and ramparts (all necessary defensive architecture) begins to shift into sweeping gardens, grand windows and structures whose primary function now is luxury and comfort. As the 100 Years War came to an end France found itself in a more peaceful time and therefore rulers started to turn inwards towards their luxury and comforts and the Chateau at Blois is no exception. The function of the nobility at this time began to change as well. Instead of being the money behind armies and wars they were now part of an elite class that took part in social hunting gatherings, banquets, tournaments and games.

The Chateau was built in 1418 and added upon until 1589. It has four very distinct wings surrounding a courtyard. Each wing is unique and reflects the time in which it was built as well as the personality of the ruler at the time. When you walk into the courtyard, on the right you see a marvelous, marble spiral staircase going up the three floors of the wing. It was here on December 23, 1588 that the handsome Henri I, Duke de Guise was murdered. Henri had recently formed the Catholic League to fight the Huguenots (Protestants) and force them out of France. By heading the powerful Catholic League it put King Louis III (and his mother, the real mastermind behind the throne, Catherine de Medici) in a vulnerable place. So as not to be diminished they had the powerful duke murdered on these very stairs. Oh, and for good measure they murdered his brother, too.

Now, for a piece of 16th century gossip – Henri III was the fourth son of Henri II and Catherine de Medici. As the fourth son it was never assumed he would take the throne but as all of his older siblings died he therefore became King of France at the age of 22. It is said that Louis III was a transvestite and a pedophile and kept a close circle of young men around him called the “mignons”. Henri never married or produced an heir and therefore was the last of the Valois dynasty to rule in France when he was assassinated by a fanatical Dominican monk in 1589. And, as if that is not enough gossip, here is more! There is a study off the bed chambers of Catherine de Medici where she frequently went to pray, write, read, etc. The entire study is covered in 237 carved and painted wooden panels. Apparently some of the panels had secret levers that reveal Catherine’s hiding places. It is said that while entertaining guests in her room for meals (a common practice at the time) she might slip into her study to take a secretly hidden poison and murder guests at dinner. Apparently people had a habit of dying mysterious deaths around Catherine. Unfortunately for her she never managed to poison her husband’s mistress (and his great love) Diane de Poitiers.

The town of Blois is as charming as any I have seen in France. It is magnificently situated on a hill high above the Loire River and its winding, hilly streets are filled with charm, fantastic shops and wonderful eateries. Like most French cities it is not unusual to turn a corner and find yourself in a beautiful park. The chateau certainly dominates the city as it sits high above everything else but as it is so beautiful it is worth being able to see from almost every turn. If you have time on a visit to Paris to take a day trip I would highly recommend taking the train to Blois.

We have now visited two cities as we continue through the Renaissance. Next stop – Fontainebleau.

As I prepare to leave France and move back to the US I have become even more eager to continue my travels from Paris throughout French history. I promise to complete all twenty four stops prior to my departure! We are just about half way through our travels and with this trip to Tours have entered into The Renaissance.

Recently I have been cheating a bit on these trips by traveling by car and by going with my friend Ileana. As Ileana is home in Romania this week I headed to Tours this morning alone and by train. May 1 is a holiday in France so I decided to head to Tours for the day despite the dreary, gray, rainy and unseasonably cold weather. Getting to Tours is actually a tad bit confusing and I was a bit anxious during the trip. You can leave Paris for Tours by either Gare Montparnasse or Gare Austerlitz and Tours itself is accessed by two train stations and it was not entirely clear which one I should use. The book indicates that you should get off at Saint Pierre des Corps about 4 km from the center of Tours but there is also a train station in the center of Tours so you can imagine my confusion. The book also indicates that there is a shuttle at the station in Saint Pierre des Corps that takes you into town. I decided to follow the book and got off at the first stop but as there was no shuttle (either because it does not exist anymore or because today is a holiday in France) I hopped in a cab and asked to go to the Place Plumereau. Place Plumereau was once where fashionable Renaissance era feathered hats were made and it literally translates to the place of feather picking.

The Place Plumereau is a pedestrian only area of Tours and on a sunny, Spring or Summer day would be a fantastic place to eat outside or enjoy a glass of wine. This particular area of town has wonderful fifteen and sixteen century architecture and the street names all describe the various trades that took place here during that time – Rue des Charpentiers (carpenters), Carroi de Chapeau (hat makers), and Rue Lavoisier (scientists). It is easy to get lost here as the streets and alleys are narrow and it is fantastic to just wander. I eventually made my way towards the Tour Charlemagne which dates back to the 11th century.

I decided it was time to leave the Place Plumereau and start to head towards the other side of town to visit the Cathedral of Saint Gatien. On my way I passed by the Hotel de Ville (town hall) of Tours which rivals in beauty to its bigger and also beautiful sister town hall in Paris. Making my way to the cathedral I was able to stroll down a beautiful tree lined street and passed the elusive Gare Tours. Now seeing how I could exit Tours by train I felt a bit more relaxed as I had not seen a single taxi and was not sure how to get back to the train station in Saint Pierre des Corps.

Tours, like most of France is steeped in history. Tours sits in the Loire Valley where kings of Paris lived between 1418 and 1589. It is in the Loire Valley that you will find most of France’s beautiful castles and chateaux. For a time it replaced Paris as the royal city and therefore built up a pretty impressive merchant system to provide for the king and his courtiers.

In the 1st century Tours was part of the Holy Roman Empire and known as Caesarodunum (hill of Caesar). In 732 AD the city was attacked by Muslim invaders and in 845 AD attacked by the Vikings. In the 16th century King Louis XI headquartered the French silk industry in Tours, a craft that exists in the city to this day. The city had been hit hard by the black death and the 100 Years War and the introduction of the silk industry helped Tours to survive.

I would like to return to Tours on a sunnier and warmer day as I think the city would just feel so much more alive. No matter how beautiful a city is it can get weary wandering around in the mist and drizzle. I ended up leaving Tours about an hour earlier than I had planned because I was cold and wet and wanted to go home. Hopefully I will have a chance to visit this magnificent city again on a more fortuitous occasion!

Next Stop – Blois