Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chateau du Chambord - Chambord

This is one huge castle, even more impressive because it stands alone in a vast grassy field that ends in a moat around the walls.

It was begun by the French king Francis I when he was 25 years old, and originally intended as a hunting lodge.  However, the design was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction, and clearly, a desire to make it imposing and impressive overtook any sporting function.

The coolest thing about this chateau is a double helix spiral staircase that's in the very center of the keep. It's in the Italian Renaissance style and there is a theory that it was designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.  The inside of the chateau has 440 rooms and 282 fireplaces.  Needless to say, we only saw a fraction. 

I also loved the rooftop terraces that give spectacular views of the castle and the surrounding forests.

- Linda

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jardin des Prés-Fichaux - Bourges

Jardin des Prés-Fichaux - Bourges, watercolor 5x7

We stayed two nights in Bourges, France, a charming small town filled with medieval half-timber houses.  It's famous for its huge Gothic cathedral, St. Etienne, that stands in the middle of town.  It's towering walls enclose beautiful stained glass windows that are almost all original, rare because most European cathedrals were badly damaged during WWII.

But I wasn't able to sketch the cathedral because, as in most medieval towns, the cathedral was built cheek by jowl with the surrounding houses.  I just couldn't get far enough away to get a good view!

I had to wait until the next day when, on the outskirts of town, Chris and I found the charming Jardin des Prés Fichaux, an unusual garden created in 1923 in the Art Deco style.  The designed is very structured with rectangular lawns, lines of colorful rosebushes, and hedges clipped into geometric shapes like these arches.  I liked this view with the rooftops of Bourges in the distance.

- Linda

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tête-á-Tête - Paris

8x8 oil on board

A quiet conversation in the Tuileries Gardens on a sunny afternoon in Paris.  I love contrast of the shapes of the shadowed figures against the brilliance of the gardens in sunlight.

- Linda

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Guedelon - Burgundy, France

Guedelon is an amazing idea; to build an authentic 13th century castle using only medieval building materials and techniques.  Work on the site in the Burgundy forest began in 1997 and is scheduled to take 25 years to complete.  It's incredible to think of the physical labor required, but that's only a part of it.  They also had to find the land, get the funding, get permits (very difficult in France!), locate the stone, timber and other materials, and find skilled, willing workers.

They also had to do research and experimentation to learn exactly how to do all the various trades involved; quarrying, stone masonry, basket weaving, iron working, and carpentry and many more.  And of course, all the labor is human or animal.  The wheel you see is a human treadmill, that is used to pull materials up to the top of the tower.  This video gives you a taste of the trades and skills involved.

I really enjoyed the visit--and it made me very happy to be living in the 21st century.

- Linda

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