At 16 years old I went to France on exchange for a month, staying in Lyon with a host family.
My French class also travelled a little around France and one of our stops was Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley.
Unfortunately one of the girl’s on our trip had fallen ill and had to be taken to hospital the morning we were scheduled to visit which meant that with the delay (she turned out to be OK!) we arrived too late to visit the inside, therefore all I was able to see was the beautiful exterior.
So when I returned to France I knew I would have to come back and finally see the inside.
Although never completely finished, the château and its grounds are pretty extraordinary.
I particularly enjoyed the double helix style staircase (believed to be designed by Leonardo da Vinci) and intricate carvings of the ceilings above.
Many furnishings and tapestries are very much intact as you wander the château’s spacious rooms.
This UNESCO world heritage site was used as a location to store many of France’s precious artworks during WW2, including Mona Lisa herself.
Over the years the château has housed a lot of different French monarchs until the revolution, which resulted in the château remaining empty for some time until Napoleon decided to bestow it upon someone.
Construction began in the mid 1500s and the grounds which surround the château are a walkable 13,000 acres or 52 square km, approximately.
You are able to go around the roof top area which offers an idea of the sheer size of land surrounding the château.
Lastly, don’t forget to have some Chambord liquor (raspberry/vanilla flavour mixed with cognac) while you’re visiting its namesake area!