Blois Castle

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Blois Castle, aerial view (2016)
Panorama of the courtyard of Blois Castle: Gastons d'Orléans wing (left); Franz I wing (center), Ludwig XII wing (right)

The Blois Castle is one of the castles of the Loire . It stands on a mountain spur on the northeast bank of the Loire in the French city of Blois in the Loir-et-Cher department . Because it was the residence of the French kings from 1498 to 1589 under the French rulers of Valois and Orléans and combines buildings from four epochs in one complex, it is one of the most famous Loire castles.

In the 10th century by the Counts of Blois built as a fortified tower on a hill, it was to the 13th century gradually to a castle expanded. The last Count of Blois sold them to the ruling dynasty of the Valois at the end of the 14th century.

The kings of Louis XII. and Franz I used the building as their main residence and had numerous conversions and extensions carried out. The castle underwent the last structural changes in the 17th century according to plans by the architect François Mansart , but then gradually sank into insignificance.

After the buildings were looted and damaged during the French Revolution , they were extensively restored from 1845 onwards . The Blois Castle became the first Loire castle, which was restored after the revolution and served as a model for the restoration of almost all currently known castles of the Loire Valley, for example, Azay-le-Rideau , Chenonceau and Amboise Castle . Since then it has been used as a museum.


Until the French Revolution, the history and fate of the castle were inextricably linked first with the county of Blois and then with the Duchy of Orléans.

Residents and owners

Blois belonged to the Robertinians in the 9th century and came by inheritance in the first quarter of the 10th century to Thibaut l'Ancien , who became the first Count of Blois. His son Thibaud I , called le Tricheur , laid the foundation stone for the palace complex. When Thibaud IV of Blois died in 1152, his two eldest sons divided up their father's estates. Blois came to Thibaud V , whose granddaughter Marie brought the county and the fortifications to the Châtillon family through her marriage in 1226 .

When Guy II of Blois-Châtillon lost his only son and heir, he sold the county of Blois together with the county of Dunois in 1391 for 200,000 French crowns to Louis de Valois , the brother of King Charles VI. and later Duke of Orléans.

Louis XII. made Blois the capital of the French kingdom. Portrait painting by Jean Perréal in Windsor Castle , created around 1500.

His son Charles de Valois was captured by the English at the Battle of Azincourt in 1415 . During his absence, the facility was administered by his stepbrother Jean de Dunois , who organized the praguerie from there . Charles retired to Blois in 1440 and made the castle a center of poetry and intellectuals. His son Louis, Duke of Orléans since 1465, was named Louis XII in 1498. King of France. He chose his native city Blois as his main residence, making it the capital of the French kingdom.

Ludwig left the castle to his successor Franz I in 1515, who also used it as his main residence because his wife Claude de France was very fond of the complex. After her death in July 1524, Francis I chose Fontainebleau Castle as his preferred residence and devoted himself to the design of Chambord Castle . Blois was then only used for short stays and celebrations of the French court. Pierre de Ronsard met his future muse Cassandre Salviati here in April 1545 during a ball . During the reign of Catherine de Medici in particular , the castle was often the venue for pompous celebrations and large hunting parties.

Even if the French kings were no longer the main residence, they often stayed at Blois Castle. King Henry III summoned the Estates General there in December 1576 and October 1588 and had his rival Henri I de Lorraine murdered in the palace on December 23, 1588 . Also Louis XIII. Blois paid a visit with his wife Anne d'Autriche in 1616 , before sending his mother Maria de 'Medici there into exile from 1617.

The complex remained in royal possession until Ludwig XIII. the castle and the county of Blois 1626 together with the Duchy of Orléans gave his brother Gaston on the occasion of his marriage to Marie de Bourbon . The king did not do this without selfish ulterior motives; the wedding gift was more like a kind of exile, because Louis XIII. in this way removed his scheming brother from the Paris court. With Gaston's death in 1660, the era of the palace as a royal residence finally ended. Only Marie Casimire Louise de la Grange d'Arquien , widow of the Polish King Jan Sobieski , and Anna Jabłonowska, mother of Stanislaus I. Leszczyński , still use the complex as a residence for a while.

Louis XVI planned to have the castle demolished and signed a corresponding order in February 1788. Before this could be carried out, however, the decision was made to convert the building complex into a barracks , which saved the complex from destruction. Confiscated during the French Revolution, it was used as a barracks and temporarily as a prison for prisoners of war until the Empire . The demolition was then discussed again before the state donated the facility to the city of Blois on August 10, 1810, which is still the owner today.

Building history

The beginnings

Floor plan of the castle during the Middle Ages

Today's urban area was already settled in Roman times. Although a "castrum" (Blisum castrum) was not mentioned in a document until 854 after it was conquered and destroyed by the Vikings , it is certain that the castle rock was already well- fortified in the Carolingian era . The destroyed fortification was rebuilt after the Viking raid.

Thibaud I of Blois began with the construction of the first defensive tower, probably made of stone, the exact location of which is unknown and is believed to be under the current south-west wing of the castle. Thibaud's grandson Eudes II expanded it further around 1030. A text from 1080 describes the complex as a residential building with a freestanding tower surrounded by a curtain wall.

A small chapel called Saint-Calais had existed on the hill since the 9th century . It was followed in 1122 by the construction of the collegiate church of Saint-Sauveur . This was built in what was then the outer bailey and served as the castle's parish church until it was demolished in 1793 . There Joan of Arc received her standard consecrated by the Archbishop of Reims, Regnault de Chartres , before moving with her army to Orléans in 1429 to liberate the city from the rule of the English.

Thibaud VI. von Blois had a building built on the north corner of the castle around 1210, which housed the so-called Estates Hall . The room got its name from the Estates General, which were held there in 1576 and 1588. Previously it was known under the names Great Hall ( French Grande Salle ) and Courtroom ( French Salle de la justice ).

In the first half of the 13th century, the existing complex was expanded and reinforced by the de Châtillon family. They had a 650-meter-long circular wall that encompasses the entire rock spur with nine round towers and three fortified gates. Three of these towers are still partially preserved in the north-west wing of the castle, while the mighty Tour du Foix still stands on the southern edge of the castle grounds. Its loopholes indicate that in the Middle Ages it was used to protect the southwest corner of the complex and the neighboring gate, which was called Porte du Foix . Inside it also one no longer received was formerly Poterne .

Main residence of the French kings

The life-size equestrian statue of Louis XII. From 1502, the builder of the entrance wing was shown above the portal.
The Italian-inspired loggia facade of the palace on the Franz I wing.

After Louis de Valois, later Duke of Orléans, acquired the complex in 1391, he began to renovate it. First he had the "great tower of the castle" ( French "great tour du chastel" ) restored. Louis' son Charles continued the work he had started in 1440 and had a gallery and stairs built, which are still partially preserved today. When Charles' death in 1465, the renovation of the castle was still not fully completed and was not completed by his son Louis, who had the old castle heavily redesigned after he was named Louis XII in 1498. had ascended the French throne. Ludwig chose his place of birth Blois as his main residence and therefore needed a place to stay that not only offered sufficient comfort, but was also appropriately representative of a king. In the period from 1498 to December 1501, a new wing of the building with a portal was built in the northeast of the core castle, which, after its builder, wing of Ludwig XII. is called. On the outside there was a life-size equestrian statue of the king in a niche above the portal, which was placed there in 1502 and is attributed to the Italian sculptor Guido Mazzoni . Ludwig also had the old chapel replaced by a new building, which was consecrated on November 19, 1508. At that time, the southwest side of the complex was formed by a complex of buildings called Perche aux Bretons , which can be seen on drawings by the French architect Jacques I. Androuet du Cerceaus from around 1575. It very likely replaced the old castle buildings from the 11th / 12th. Century.

What the north-western side of the complex looked like at that time is incomprehensible due to the lack of contemporary representations. What is certain is that a wing of the building called Nouveau Logis had existed there since the 15th century .

Ludwig's successor Franz I also initially used the castle in Blois as the main residence. Including the old curtain wall and its towers, he had a new residential wing built in the north-west of the complex from 1515. For this purpose, two buildings were erected on both sides of the curtain wall and then combined under a common roof to form one building. This is why an unusually thick wall stretches across its entire length in the middle of the wing and extends to the top floor. On the outside, the new building was given a façade inspired by Italian architecture, which had multi-storey round arch niches across its entire width and offered a good view of the gardens at that time. It is known today as the loggia facade ( French Façade des loges ). For the first time in France, a move away from defensive architecture in favor of representative openness and thus the transition from castle to palace construction was pursued.

The architect of this Renaissance wing is still unknown today, but Domenico da Cortona is believed to be behind it. The leading mason has been handed down. It was Jacques Sourdeau, who was also active in Amboise and Chambord. Franz's construction project was never completely finished, because after the death of his wife Claude he moved to Fontainebleau in 1524 without the work on Blois Castle continuing. The abrupt end of construction work is reflected, among other things, in the lack of some decorative elements on the building's facades.

After the court left, hardly any structural changes were made to the castle. Catherine of Medici had a courtyard-facing arcade gallery with Doric columns built on the Franz I wing , which is no longer preserved today. The only gable on the top floor of the loggia facade can be traced back to them.

Last renovation and decline

A bust of Gaston d'Orléans recalls his renovation plans in the 17th century.

In the 17th century, Gaston d'Orléans, the designated heir to the throne, planned to demolish all of the Blois castle buildings and replace them with new buildings in the classicist Baroque style . The drafts for this project came from the French architect François Mansart, who had already proposed some of these new buildings to Henry IV. Of the extensive plans, only the Corps de Logis was implemented, construction of which began on January 4, 1635 and lasted until November 1638. Then Gaston had to end the construction work due to financial difficulties, because after the birth of Louis XIV his succession to the throne had become unlikely and the king's first minister, Richelieu , had cut him financial support for his building project.

In order to realize the lock wing on the southwest side of the area according to the plans Mansart, not only had the old buildings are laid down on this side, and the western part of the wing of Francis I , and in 1635 the ship the Chapel Saint-Calais were demolished to do so. Since the building was not completed during Gaston's lifetime, he stayed in the wing of Franz I and spent his time, among other things, conducting astronomical studies in the observatory he built around 1640 on the roof of the Tour du Foix .

1788 existed under Louis XVI. Plans to demolish all of the palace buildings, but then the buildings were converted into barracks. This use saved it from final destruction, but much of the architecturally valuable interior was lost because it was unintentionally destroyed or removed on purpose. Even the former chapel was used for military purposes.

During the French Revolution, the complex in Blois fared like numerous castles in France. It was looted and badly damaged by revolutionary troops. Almost all royal coats of arms and emblems of the stone jewelry were removed as a sign of oppression and in 1792 the equestrian statue above the castle portal was also destroyed.


The palace portal before its restoration; the equestrian statue of Louis XII is missing.
The appearance of the Estates Hall is the result of restorations in the 1860s.

After the state donated the facility to the city of Blois in 1810, it continued to be used as a barracks. During the restoration , the Franz I wing was opened to visitors and thought was given to possible uses that were not of a military nature. However, their implementation always failed due to a lack of financial resources. The castle was in a desolate structural condition, and in order to be able to implement the various suggestions for use, the buildings first had to be extensively renovated. In 1840 the castle was placed under monument protection. At the instigation of the inspector of the newly founded Commission des Monuments historiques , Prosper Mérimée , it was decided against the will of the French Minister of War Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult in July 1844 to restore the Renaissance wing built by Francis I. The architect Jacques Felix Duban , who had already made a name for himself with the restoration of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, was commissioned with the necessary work . He was supported by Jules de La Morandière , a pupil of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc . The result of the restoration, carried out from September 1845 to January 1848, is not without controversy among architectural historians today, because Duban created a state of construction and decoration that was largely derived only as an example from findings from other buildings, but was not proven for Blois Castle. For example, the decorative structure of the courtyard facade was greatly changed during the work. Further restoration work nevertheless followed. Under the direction of Dubans from 1852 to 1855 the wing of Louis XII. restored and in 1858 received a copy of the equestrian statue above the portal as a replacement for the destroyed original. This was followed by the restoration of the Estates Hall in the neo-Renaissance style from 1861 to 1862 and the repair of the chapel from 1867 to 1868.

The results of the restoration impressed those responsible at the Commission des Monuments historiques to such an extent that the restoration of other destroyed castles in the Loire Valley was started. Blois thus pioneered the restoration of most of the Loire castles that still exist today.

After Felix Duban's death in 1871, Jules de La Morandière was commissioned to continue the restoration. From 1880 he began work on the Gastons d'Orléans piano according to plans that were still made by Duban. De La Morandière was soon replaced by Anatole de Baudot . This completed the restoration of the classical wing by 1900 and was also responsible for the restoration of the first floor in the Franz I wing . The current staircase in the Gaston wing, however, dates from 1932.

During the Second World War , the palace buildings were damaged by bombs in June 1940 and August 1944. The Saint-Calais chapel was particularly hard hit, as its stained glass windows from the early 16th century were destroyed, as were the wall paintings restored by Duban's student Charles Chauvin. The other buildings had lost their roofs, which were not replaced until 1977. Under the direction of the chief architect of the Caisse nationale des monuments historiques et des sites , Patrick Ponsot, restoration work finally followed from 1980, during which, among other things, interior paintings were refreshed and floors in the Franz I wing were replaced and the courtyard of the palace was paved.


Blois Castle with its gardens on an engraving by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, around 1575

The first gardens in Blois were created in the 15th century under Louis XII. In addition to a small orchard in the outer bailey , he had an orchard and vegetable garden built in the moat, which was called Vergers des fossées . To the north-west of it, an ornamental garden called Jardin de Bretonnerie was probably created around 1470 outside the moats . Ludwig XII left this garden. according to plans by the landscape architect Pacello da Mercogliano , whom his royal predecessor Charles VIII brought from Italy. In 1499 he bought land to the west of the Jardin de Bretonnerie especially for this purpose .

The new garden was laid out on two large terraces that were a little above the old ornamental garden. The lower of the two terraces was called the Queen's Garden ( French Jardin de la Reine ). Initially it consisted of four regular parterren with a pavilion in the middle, in which there was a marble fountain erected in 1503 . There were arcades on three sides of the garden . On the east side of the terrace, Ludwig had a building erected at the end of such an arcade by 1506, the vaulted cellar of which offered an exit to the Jardin de Bretonnerie , which was located below . The architectural similarities to the wing of Louis XII. in the castle result from the fact that this building was designed by the same artists as the castle wing. It has been called the Anne de Bretagne Pavilion ( French Pavillon d'Anne de Bretagne ) since the 19th century, but so far there is no evidence that the pavilion was actually built for its namesake.

To the west of the Queen's Garden, the King's Garden ( Jardin du Roi in French ) was then laid out on a terrace that was again higher up . Ludwig XII acquired the necessary terrain. 1505 and 1510. The king's garden was apparently used as a vegetable garden and had a 30-meter-deep well that supplied water via a hydraulic system to irrigate all the palace gardens.

The three garden terraces were accessible via the so-called deer gallery ( French Galérie des cerfs ), a closed gallery that led from the Nouveau Logis over the moat to an entrance pavilion in the queen's garden . Its name resulted from the countless antlers of deer, elk and reindeer that were displayed in the burrow as hunting trophies.

The garden parterres were changed under Franz I, before Henry IV gave the order on June 25, 1598 to build a 200 meter long gallery in the garden with a central and two corner pavilions. Therefore, under the direction of Arnauds de Saumery, the corresponding construction work began that same year. The gallery including the central pavilion was completed by 1602, but the two planned corner pavilions were never realized. In 1756 the gallery - also called Henry IV's wing because of its builder - partially collapsed . Their remains were completely laid down ten years later.

The gardens and the garden buildings were largely destroyed during the French Revolution and finally disappeared in later years due to construction activities. Only an orangery and the Anne de Bretagne pavilion remained. The latter was restored by Anatole de Baudot around 1890.


Floor plan of the castle

Blois Castle stands, surrounded by the city, at the end of a rocky promontory, the plateau of which slopes steeply on three sides. The fourth, northeast side of the complex was previously protected by a neck ditch and has always been the side from which the buildings can be entered via a bailey. The outer bailey buildings no longer exist today, but the square to the east of the castle, the Place du château (German: Schlossplatz ), still has the layout and dimensions of the former outer bailey area.

Blois Castle today consists of buildings that form an irregular square. Its corners are - as was common in the past - aligned with the cardinal points. Three wings of the building are named after their respective builders: wing of Ludwig XII. , Franz I wing and Gastons d'Orléans wing . On the fourth southeast side facing the Loire there is a chapel with a low gallery and the so-called Tour du Foix .

Southeast side

Right in the picture: Charles VIII's gallery with the palace chapel behind it, seen from the Franz I wing ; the wing of Louis XII closes on the left
. on.

The inner courtyard of the palace is bordered in the southeast by the gallery of Charles VIII at ground level and the Saint-Calais chapel behind it . The builder of the natural stone gallery has not yet been clearly identified. It was probably built by Charles VIII in the middle of the 15th century and is therefore named after him. With its simple, octagonal pillars supporting flat basket arches, it was probably the model for the very similar gallery in Fougères-sur-Bièvre Castle . On the first floor, the brick building has Gothic cross windows on a profiled, double cornice , which are framed by natural stone blocks and crowned in the attic by hatchings with stepped gables.

But it is also possible that only Charles's son Ludwig XII. had the gallery built, because he is also the builder of the adjoining chapel. Of this only the three-bay choir with stained glass windows by Max Ingrand from 1957 still exists . The nave , which is about the same length , was demolished in the 17th century.

The Tour du Foix , a round tower from the beginning of the 13th century, which is a remnant of the former medieval curtain wall, stands on the southern corner of the main castle area . The terrace he stands on was named Terrasse du Foix after him. The former corner tower has three floors, each of which is occupied by a single large room vaulted with a dome . Previously only accessible via a ladder to a high entrance , the floors are now accessed via a wooden staircase from the 17th century. On the roof plateau is a square structure made of bricks with corner blocks made of light-colored house stone, which served as an astronomical observatory.

Wing of Louis XII.

Outside of the wing of Louis XII.
The facade decoration reveals something of the splendor of the late Gothic flamboyant, especially on the roof windows.

The entrance to the palace is in the late Gothic wing of Louis XII. , which was built from red brick and light stone in the style of the flamboyant and already shows the first elements in the style of the Renaissance .

On the outside of the two-storey wing there is a life-size equestrian statue of Louis XII above the arched portal in a niche that is spanned by two high Gothic arches. Below is the porcupine, framed by the two crowned initials L and A for the first names Ludwig and Anne. They replace a Latin inscription that used to be there. The statue is a replica of the original from the beginning of the 16th century, destroyed during the French Revolution. It was made in 1857 by the French sculptor Émile Seurre. On the upper floor of the wing there are two balconies, which mark the rooms behind as royal apartments. Today the Musée des Beaux-Arts is housed in the wing .

On the courtyard side, the most striking element of this wing of the building is on the ground floor, a ground-level gallery with flat-arched, Gothic arcades that are alternately supported by a pillar and a column . These are decorated with forms of jewelry from the Italian Renaissance, for example plant ornaments, masks, dolphins, cornucopia and small figures. The gallery was a novelty in French architecture at the time, because it made it possible for the first time to enter the rooms connected to the gallery without having to pass through other, neighboring rooms. The gallery is closed at both ends by a four-story, square stair tower with corner blocks and horizontal cornices. The corners of the larger, northern tower are designed as round columns. The top floor has portholes with the royal coat of arms and Ludwig's initials in the gable on the outside .

The most impressive room in this oldest part of the castle is the Estates Hall from the early 13th century. It is the oldest secular Gothic hall in France. Here the Counts of Blois held audiences, held celebrations and received honorary certificates. The hall measures 30 by 18 meters and, due to its size, is divided into two adjacent naves. Their roof trusses are clad with painted paneling in the form of a barrel vault and are supported by a row of columns with connecting ogival arcades.

Franz I wing

Franz I wing with the open Wendelstein

The three-storey Renaissance wing of Franz I shows a large open Wendelstein on the courtyard side , one of the last significant examples of a staircase outside the actual building corpus. The facade appears asymmetrical due to the position of the spiral staircase , because the demolition of the western part of the building means that the octagonal stair tower is no longer exactly in the middle of the wall. Its stone balustrades in the form of the symbols of Franz I are not the handrails of the stairs, as it seems at first glance, but the balustrades of balconies from which spectacles in the castle courtyard could be observed. Just like the parapets, the corner pillars of the staircase are richly decorated inside and outside and have niches in the lower area in which statues stand. These are like the equestrian statue in the wing of Louis XII. a copy of the originals made by Émile Seurre in the 19th century. The initials F and C (for Franz and Claude), which frame Franz's emblem - the salamander - can be found in a large niche to the left of the staircase entrance.

This animal symbol is repeated many times in the courtyard facade of the wing. This is divided by pilasters and friezes into rectangular wall fields with the salamander as a relief in the middle . The second floor is closed by a cordon cornice with a filigree, double round-arched frieze and a balustrade above. These architectural elements, which are strongly inspired by Italian, are unique in France.

On the garden side of the impressive wing of Francis I by his Loggienfassade , probably by the by Donato Bramante were inspired designed loggias of the Vatican. In contrast to the external appearance and the Italian model, there are no continuous loggias behind the pilaster-framed arches. The storeys close to the eaves with an arched frieze and a balustrade above.

The Queen's cabinet with its secret compartments

The entire wing of the palace is strikingly lavishly decorated with sculpted decorations. Even the chimneys are crowned with intricately crafted stone decorations. However, this is an addition from the 19th century, because drawings by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau from the third quarter of the 16th century prove that this decor did not yet exist in the 16th century.

The kitchen and utility rooms were located inside the ground floor. Today it is home to the Musée archéologique et Musée lapidaire . The floor plan shows that the wing was built on the site of an old curtain wall and that it was included in the new building. That is why the walls of three round towers from the former curtain wall, which were built in the 13th century, are found in the Franz I wing. The name of one of these towers has even been passed down: Tour de Châteaurenault .

The king's bedroom

The first floor is home to the former apartments of the French queen. Catherine de Medici died there in 1589. Two particularly well-known rooms on this floor are the Queen's oratory with stained glass windows by Claudius Lavergne , who also designed the first windows of the Saint-Calais chapel , and the so-called Queen's Cabinet . The latter is a room with a coffered ceiling and paneling that dates from around 1520 and consists of 237 individual wooden panels. These are elaborately carved and sometimes even painted with gold. Four secret compartments in the wall can also be opened using pedals in the baseboard. Since the publication of Alexandre Dumas' novel La Reine Margot , in which the author described the wall compartments as the secret storage places for poison ampoules by Catherine de Medici, the rumor has persisted that this type of use as a poison cupboard was true. In reality, however, they were rather used as a repository for valuable art objects, important documents and books. The room is the only Renaissance cabinet of its kind that has survived in France. The design of the floor, the ceiling and the fireplace were inspired by models in the ballroom of Fontainebleau Castle.

The second floor of the wing is occupied by the king's apartments. On this floor, Heinrich III. assassinate his political adversary, the Duke of Guise , in December 1588 . This is why the royal bedroom is also the most famous room on the floor, although the current room, due to extensive redesigns in the 19th century, is very likely not the site of the assassination attempt at that time. Today's Salle des Guise commemorates this historic event with its numerous paintings on the story of the assassination.

Gastons d'Orléans grand piano

Central elevation with portal and double column colonnades of the Gastons d'Orléans wing

The Gaston d'Orléans wing, built in the first half of the 17th century by François Mansart for the brother of the King and Duke of Orléans, appears in the style of early French classicism. It is the executed part of a new planning and re-planning of the entire palace complex that was carried out by Mansart, which, however, was not fully implemented.

The three-storey wing with a mansard roof has a central projection on the courtyard side , which is joined by two short side wings. The use of so-called double columns on the ground floor, which approach the center of the building in two semicircular colonnades - concave from the side pavilions - is revolutionary and determines the later official French architectural style (e.g. the east facade of the Louvre ) . All floors of the central projectile are also provided with columns. From bottom to top, their design corresponds to the classic sequence of columns: Doric, Ionic , Corinthian . The second floor of the central risalit is defined by a triangular gable. It is followed on the third floor by a round gable with the Gastons d'Orléans coat of arms, which is crowned by a bust of the client. It is a 1915 copy made by the sculptor Alfred Halou and replaces the original by Jacques Sarrazin that was destroyed during the French Revolution . The other figures and sculptures on the wing also come from Sarrazin's workshop or from that of his contemporary Simon Guillain. In its monumental simplicity, the facade was a model for other buildings of the Krone, which up to Compiègne Castle adhered to a relatively simple but nevertheless impressive decor.

The staircase is designed as a so-called French staircase, that is, it consists of two ramps and is fully integrated into the building structure. It runs the height of all three floors and is closed on the upper floor by a richly decorated, round dome that rises above a square opening in the ceiling. However, the staircase is not an original from Mansart's time, as it was only built in 1932 based on the model of the staircase in Maisons-Laffitte Castle, which was also designed by Mansart .

Buildings in the former gardens

With the exception of two buildings, nothing of the former gardens of the palace has survived.

The so-called Anne de Bretagne Pavilion is now home to the Blois Tourist Office. Originally it was the Belvedere of the palace gardens. The three-storey building made of bricks with bright corner blocks made of natural stone from the beginning of the 16th century has a polygonal slate roof. Its octagonal, central structure with a diameter of 7.85 meters is followed by four short wings that are oriented towards the cardinal points. There is an oratory in the east wing. The stone balustrade of the pavilion has tracery and the initials of Louis XII. and Anne de Bretagnes decorated.

The pavilion is adjoined to the east by a half-timbered building that previously served as an orangery and is now home to a restaurant. The building is believed to be the first orangery in France.

Todays use

Exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-arts

Blois Castle has been used as a museum since its restoration at the end of the 19th century. On the upper floor of the wing of Louis XII. Today is the Musée des Beaux-arts , founded in 1850 , the art museum of the city of Blois. Its exhibits include numerous sculptures and paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries - including works from the Fontainebleau school - as well as a collection of valuable tapestries . The first floor of the wing also houses a picture gallery with 39 portraits from the 17th and 18th centuries depicting important personalities and members of the French royal court.

Today the Musée archéologique et Musée lapidaire is housed on the ground floor of the Francis I wing . It shows finds from excavations that were carried out in the palace area, among other things, and original sculptural jewelry from the palace, which was not used again during the restoration work in the 19th century. In addition, replicas of furnishings can be seen there, the models of which date from a period that begins in the Gallo-Roman period and extends to the Middle Ages.


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  • Pierre Lesueur: Les jardins du château de Blois et leurs dépendances. Étude architectonique. In: Mémoires de la Société des Sciences et des Lettres de Loir-et-Cher. Volume 18, 1904, ISSN  1157-0849 , pp. 223-438 ( digital copy ).
  • Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos, Robert Polidori : Castles in the Loire Valley . Könemann, Cologne 1997, ISBN 3-89508-597-9 , p. 92-101 .
  • Eckhard Philipp: The Loire Valley. 3. Edition. Goldstadtverlag, Pforzheim 1993, ISBN 3-87269-078-7 , pp. 192-205.
  • Georges Poisson : Castles of the Loire. Goldmann, Munich 1964, pp. 40-47.

Web links

Commons : Blois Castle  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Jean-Luc Beaumont: Chronology of the châteaux de France. Pays de la Loire et Center. 2004.
  2. ^ Thierry Crépin-Leblond: Le château de Blois. 2002, p. 24.
  3. a b c Thierry Crépin-Leblond: Le château de Blois. , 2002, p. 4.
  4. a b , accessed on January 5, 2020.
  5. , accessed on January 5, 2020.
  6. a b Entry on Annie Cospérec's Blois Castle in the Base Mérimée of the French Ministry of Culture (French), accessed on January 5, 2020.
  7. ^ Thierry Crépin-Leblond: Le château de Blois. 2002, p. 34.
  8. a b Information on the information board in the building
  9. ^ Thierry Crépin-Leblond: Le château de Blois. 2002, p. 31.
  10. ^ Thierry Crépin-Leblond: Le château de Blois. 2002, p. 10.
  11. ^ Wilfried Hansmann: The Loire Valley. 2011, p. 88.
  12. ^ George Poisson: Castles of the Loire. 1964, p. 43.
  13. ^ George Poisson: Castles of the Loire. 1964, p. 44.
  14. ^ Pierre Lesueur: Les jardins du château de Blois et leurs dépendances. 1904, p. 238.
  15. Christophe Gratias: Le pavillon d'Anne de Bretagne et les jardins du château de Blois. 1997, p. 134.
  16. Christophe Gratias: Le pavillon d'Anne de Bretagne et les jardins du château de Blois. 1997, p. 135.
  17. ^ Pierre Lesueur: Les jardins du château de Blois et leurs dépendances. 1904, pp. 287, 293.
  18. ^ Thierry Crépin-Leblond: Le château de Blois. 2002, p. 13.
  19. Christophe Gratias: Le pavillon d'Anne de Bretagne et les jardins du château de Blois. 1997, p. 133.
  20. ^ Thierry Crépin-Leblond: Le château de Blois. 2002, p. 9.
  21. René Polette: Lovable Loire castles . Morstadt, Kehl 1996, ISBN 3-88571-266-0 , p. 58.
  22. Information according to the information board on the tower
  23. René Polette: Lovable Loire castles . Morstadt, Kehl 1996, ISBN 3-88571-266-0 , p. 27.
  24. Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos: Castles in the Loire Valley. 1997, p. 99.
  25. Christophe Gratias: Le pavillon d'Anne de Bretagne et les jardins du château de Blois. 1997, p. 131.
  26. Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos: Castles in the Loire Valley. 1997, p. 98.

Coordinates: 47 ° 35 ′ 8.5 ″  N , 1 ° 19 ′ 50 ″  E

This article was added to the list of excellent articles on January 14, 2008 in this version .