Actually it is pronounced “Blah” but the real name of the town we visited today is Blois. Before we hit Blah we had to get in our castle fix and visited Cheverny. As we approached Cheverny the streets were lined with vehicles – we wondered if it could really be this popular of a destination. Next we noticed some streets, like, the one we wanted to use, were barricaded. Turns out we were visiting on the day of the Cheverny Marathon. We found a parking lot and slipped right into a spot of an early finisher. What luck!
Cheverny is by for the nicest of the chateuax we have visited – which has just been three. The difference is that this is still a functioning home. The property has been in the same family for about 600 years and they live in one wing while the rest is open to the public. The rooms are all fabulously decorated. The restoration work and original items really make it look the way a castle is supposed to look.
The grounds are lovely and the tulips were already sprouting in the garden. This place will be a symphony of color in the coming weeks. They had a hedge labyrinth that puts our Indiana corn mazes to shame. The family did manage to make it out. Cheverny has a focus on hunting which includes a kennel with about 70 hunting dogs. The Friend family could not get enough of these friendly hounds. Feeding time is supposed to be quite an entertaining event but we weren’t going to wait 4 hours for the show.
In the city of Blois we visited their palace and the Robert Houdin Magic house. Harry Houdini’s name was inspired by Robert Houdin. The museum had exhibits on illusions, historical magicians and the life of Robert Houdin. They had a 30 minute show in their theater which was part magic and part strange European theater. There was no dialogue so it was good for non-natives like us. We aren’t sure if the theme was the magic of movies, magic in movies or movies about magic. Anne decided it was just weird French stuff that we can’t understand. I’m still trying to figure out how the lunar landing footage fits in – by putting it in a magic show it seems to give credence to the conspiracy theorists who consider man walking on the moon to be a cinematic hoax. The show ended with the 2 stars dancing on stage to Pharrel’s “Get Lucky” while the credits rolled.
The palace tour had everything written in English, so although not the most lavish place, it had the best information. There had been a number of restorations which themselves become part of the exhibits. It is interesting that there is no original state for places like this. They have been bombed, destroyed, altered, and enhanced over the years and there is no “original” state. We are left with lessons on the architecture and decorative fad of whatever king was in favor at the time.
There was a special exhibition on Anne of Brittany. This part was not in English but it appears that she was well liked and sickly. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of her death the reliquary which used to hold her heart was on display. I really want to know why there had to be a special holder for her heart and where is her heart now. This separating people from their body parts and putting them on display is a tradition which thankfully is not around anymore.
Anne treated the family to dinner in Blois. We had pizza while overlooking a plaza. The plaza came with entertainment in the form of a deranged individual proclaiming things loudly. It also could have been some sort of street art but we could not understand a lick of what was being said.