Château Royal de Blois

Château Royal de Blois information

Blois , France
place du Château
+33 2 54 90 33 33
More information
adult/child €9.80/5, audioguide €4, English tours Jul & Aug free
Opening hours
9am-6.30pm Apr-Sep, to 7pm Jul & Aug, shorter hours rest of year
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Intended more as an architectural showpiece (look at that ornately carved facade!) than a military stronghold, Blois’ chateau bears the creative mark of several successive French kings. It makes an excellent introduction to the chateaux of the Loire Valley, with elements of Gothic (13th century), Flamboyant Gothic (1498–1503), early Renaissance (1515–24) and classical (1630s) architecture in its four grand wings.

The most famous feature of the Renaissance wing, the royal apartments of François I and Queen Claude, is the loggia staircase , decorated with salamanders and curly Fs (heraldic symbols of François I).

Highlights also include the bedchamber in which Catherine de Médicis (Henri II’s machiavellian wife) died in 1589. According to Alexandre Dumas, the queen stashed her poisons in secret cupboards behind the elaborately panelled walls of the studiolo , one of the few rooms in the castle with its original decor.

The second-floor king’s apartments were the setting for one of the bloodiest episodes in the château’s history: in 1588 Henri III had his arch-rival, Duke Henri I de Guise, murdered by royal bodyguards (the king hid behind a tapestry). He had the Duke’s brother, the Cardinal de Guise, killed the next day. Henri III himself was murdered just eight months later by a vengeful monk. Period paintings chronicle the gruesome events.

In spring and summer, don’t miss the nightly son et lumière , which bring the château’s history and architecture to life with dramatic lighting and narration.