Paris and Versailees

   
Eiffel Tower base

The Eiffel Tower is 1063 feet (324m) tall and 410 feet (125m) wide at the base.

Pont des Invalides

The tower's second level is great for photographing its Paris surroundings.

Pont du Grenelle

Looking south-west: the Grenelle and other bridges over the Seine

Sacré-Coeur Basilica

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica dominates the Montmartre district in the north-east.

Les Invalides

L-R: Notre Dame, the gilded dome of Les Invalides, and the dome of the Parthenon

Seine River

A Seine River cruise is agreat way to see the sights of central Paris.

Versailles

The Palace of Versailles,transformed by Louis XIV beginning in 1669

Orangerie, Versailles

Versailles, with its famous Orangerie garden in the foreground

Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, copied into lavish palaces all around the world

Chapel of Versailles

The Chapel of Versailles, consecrated to Saint Louis (Louis IX of France)

Pyramid Garden, Versailles

The court of Versailles was the centre of French political power from 1682 to 1789.

Latona fountain, Versailles

The Latona fountain, with the goddess Latona and her children, Apollo and Diana

Chenonceau, Amboise, and Clos-Lucé

   
Chateau de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau elegantly spans the River Cher, a tributary of the Loire.

Chateau de Chenonceau

Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henry II, had the bridge built across the river.

Diane's garden, Chenonceau

Chenonceau's extensive flower gardens were also begun by Diane.

Catherine's garden, Chenonceau

Catherine de' Medici's later gardens, not meant to be competitive at all

Chenonceau gardens

Maintaining all the various gardens remains a top priority.

Diane's bedchamber, Chenonceau

Bedchamber of Diane de Poitiers, the first First Lady of the chateau

Queens' Bedroom, Chenonceau

The Five Queens' Bedroom, named for Catherine de Medici's next generation

Tour des Marques, Chenonceau

The Tour des Marques is all that remains of the original fortified castle.

Amboise

Amboise, on the banks of the Loire, was once home of the French royal court.

Chateau d'Amboise

The majestic Château d'Amboise towers above the surrounding town.

Chateau d'Amboise

The Château was begunin the 11th century and rebuilt late in the 15th.

View from Chateau d'Amboise

Its position gives it control over a strategic part of the Loire River.

Chateau d'Amboise

For over a century Château d'Amboise was a favourite residence of French kings.

St. Hubert Chapel, Amboise

Leonardo da Vinci is believed to be buried in the Amboise Castle chapel.

Manor Clos-Luce

Leonardo lived and worked at Manor Clos-Lucé the last three years of his life.

Manor Clos-Luce

The manor and grounds display models of da Vinci's machines and concepts.

Cheverny, Chambord, and Blois

   
Chateau de Cheverny

Château de Cheverny,built between 1624 and 1630, is now back in family hands.

Cheverny Bridal Chamber

Cheverny's Bridal Chamber, furnished with a Louis XVI dressing table

Cheverny Nursery

The Nursery, with rocking horses from the period of Napoleon III

Cheverny Dining Hall

Cheverny's Dining Hall, reflecting a major interior renovation begun in 1768

Chateau de Chambord

Château de Chambord, built 1519-1547, is the largest Loire Valley castle.

Chateau de Chambord moat

Chambord is recognizable for its distinctive French Renaissance architecture

Chateau de Chambord

Chambord was originally built by King Francis I to serve as a hunting lodge.

Chateau de Chambord roof

The roofscape of Chambord, with eleven kinds of towers and three types of chimneys

Chateau de Blois

The Château de Blois was built in the middle of the town that it controlled.

Chateau de Blois courtyard

Blois Château consists of several c13-c17 buildings around a central courtyard.

Louis XII, Chateau de Blois

A mounted statue of the king adorns the façade of the Louis XII wing.

King's Bedchamber, Chateau de Blois

The Chambre du Roi at Blois, residence of several French kings

Villandry

   
Chateau de Villandry

Château de Villandry is a castle-palace located where an ancient fortress once stood.

Chateau de Villandry gardens

Villandry's fame is based not on the château but on its exquisite gardens.

Chateau de Villandry gardens

Joachim Carvallo used historical sources to restore the gardens in 20th century.

Chateau de Villandry bedchamber

The inside rooms of the Château de Villandry were refitted in the 18th century.

Château de Villandry interior

Villandry was one of the last renaissance palaces built on the Loire.

Chateau de Villandry

Ornate kitchen gardens date back to abbeys of the Middle Ages.

Chateau de Villandry gardens

Each year 250,000 flowers and vegetables are planted in the gardens.

Villandry gardens

Delightful.

Towns: Orléans and Tours

   
Loire River, Orleans

Orléans is situated where the Loire turns south-west into the Valley.

Orleans architecture

Orléans features a striking blend of traditional and modern architecture.

Jioan of Arc, Maid of Orleans

Joan of Arc, “The Maid of Orléans”, liberated the town from the English in 1429.

Place Plumereau, Tours

Place Plumereau in Tours, on the Loire between Orléans and the Atlantic