From Academic Kids

The châteaux of the Loire Valley (Val de Loire) number more than 300. They represent a nation of builders starting with the necessary castle fortifications in the 10th century to the splendor of those built a thousand years later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux here, the nobility, not wanting or even daring to be far from the seat of power, followed suit. Their presence in the lush, fertile valley with its moderate climate, began attracting the very best landscape designers. Before long, and to this day, the valley of the Loire is known as the "Garden of France".

Contents

History

By the middle of the 16th century, King Francois I, had shifted the center of power in France from the Loire back to the ancient capital of Paris. With him went the great architects, but the Loire Valley continued to be the place where most of the French royalty preferred to spend the bulk of their time. The ascension of King Louis XIV in the middle of the 17th century made Paris the permanent site for great royal châteaux when he built the Palace of Versailles. Nonetheless, those who gained the king's favour and the wealthy bourgeoisie, continued to renovate existing châteaux or build lavish new ones as their summer residence in the Loire.

The French Revolution saw a number of the great French châteaux destroyed and many ransacked, their treasures stolen. The overnight impoverishment of many of the deposed nobility, usually after one of its members lost their head to the guillotine, saw many châteaux demolished.

The châteaux today

Today, these privately owned châteaux serve as homes, a few opening their doors to tourist visits, while others are operated as hotels or bed and breakfasts. Many have been taken over by a local government authority or the giant structures like those at Chambord are owned and operated by the national government and are major tourist sites, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Some châteaux

External links

See also

fr:Châteaux de la Loire it:Castelli della Loira

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