I have been visiting castles, many castles, the castles of the Loire Valley. They are all grand, with their ornate decorations, their winding staircases, their narrow towers, their neatly arranged gardens. They are beautiful, in all their splendor and richness. However, I must confess that I have one favorite-- Chambord.
I was immediately struck by the castle's spiralling towers, its gargoyles and statues and twisted, winding staircases. It is in this castle where I can imagine a sleeping beauty resting at the highest tower, with a fiery dragon guarding the surrounding area-- the castle's vast grounds, decorated with rows of trees and symmetric gardens.
There is something mysterious about this castle, which can be so haunting, so fleeting, and yet so concrete at the same time. The paintings and gargoyles come to life when I turn my back to them-- I can feel their eyes spying upon me as I walk down the sweeping hallways and great halls of the castle. Perhaps it is simply my imagination.
This is the castle where Moliere first performed Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. I am astounded to be standing within the very theater that this great playwright must have stood, waiting anxiously for the king's aprooval and the aprooval of the court.
The fireplaces still smell of ash and dust, perhaps the sole proof that people once lived in such grandeur-- sleeping in large, well-furnished beds with colorful sheets and eating feasts with other members of the court, seated at large tables and served with fine silverware. The life of royalty.