It was on his victorious return from the Battle of Marignan in 1515 that Francis I decided to build Chambord. It wasn’t just to be a residence, but a monumental symbol of his power inscribed in stone. Despite this, he spent only 50 days there. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the castle has been home to many illustrious guests over the centuries. It has hosted memorable celebrations and hunting parties, including those of Louis XIV who completed the work of constructing the castle.
The famous double helix staircase is a highlight of your visit. Set in the central axis of the castle it was a revolutionary design and an engineering masterpiece. Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, the ingenious spiral open staircase joins various levels via two sets of steps set in a huge lantern-like case. You can ascend on one side without meeting or making eye contact with those who are descending on the other side – now that’s entertainment.
426 rooms, 83 staircases, 282 fireplaces... the Chateau de Chambord and its grandiose architecture rival that of the Palace of Versailles. 60 rooms may be visited and you’ll enjoy a collection of 4,500 objets d'art displayed in superbly refurbished apartments.
At Chambord, the salamander, a small amphibian, as comfortable in the water as on land, is represented more than 300 times on ceilings and walls. The small creature was the emblem of Francis I with a crown and the motto “I eat the good fire, I put out the bad ". Popular belief had it that a salamander has the power to resist flames.
In the spring of 2017, Chambord renovated its grand gardens. 600 trees, 800 shrubs, 200 roses and 15,250 plants filled the borders plus an immense 18,874 m² of lawns were replanted. This blitz of gardening followed 16 years of study for a restoration of almost identical gardens created in the rule of Louis XIV. They are magnificent.
Did you know? The Château de Chambord park is as vast as inner Paris. It is the largest enclosed park in Europe: 5,440 hectares surrounded by 32 kilometres of walls. It is home to an exceptional range of flora and fauna and there are several ways to discover its beauty - on horseback, by bike, horse and carriage or in a 4X4. In fine weather you can follow more than 20 kilometres of trails which allow you to explore the enchanted woods.
A Renaissance castle at the forefront of technology: Discover Chambord in augmented reality and in 3D via Histopad, an interactive digital tablet which offers a spectacular immersive experience and commentary in 12 languages.
History has not officially recorded the name of the architect responsible for the castle of Chambord but the influence of Leonardo da Vinci, whom Francis I invited to live in France as "first painter, architect and engineer of the king" is indisputable. That central staircase, the innovative ventilation scheme and sealed double pit latrine system clearly bear his mark of genius.
The 4* Hotel Relais de Chambord just 50 meters from the castle, opened in March 2018. After three years of renovation, the former hotel Saint-Michel offers a brand-new look plus 55 rooms and suites entirely redesigned by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.
"A woman with her hair blown in the air by the wind", is how the poet Chateaubriand described Chambord and its terraces, the profusion of turrets, skylights and chimneys which contrast with the majestic sobriety of the facades. From above, where the lantern tower soars, the view of the park and the gardens is a perfect panorama.