Good day, my darlings! Today was the last day of the excursions that my University offers for their exchange students, and this last excursion was to visit a second set of chateaux in the Loire Valley. Included in these chateaux are both the castle that king François I and his son, Henry II, lived in, as well as a property down the street that was lent to a special person during the same time.
Wanna take a guess at who this guy might be?
I’ll give you a hint-the kings are real, the timing is real, but if this were the case, Cinderella, played by Drew Barrymore in the movie “Ever After” (which was filmed in the Loire Valley, by the way), would actually be Catherine de Medicis, who was completely snubbed by her husband (Henry), and became (perhaps rightfully) extremely harsh, merciful, and pretty crazy by the end of her life.
I hate to spoil this story for everyone, but I was shocked to discover that someone could have written a screenplay about Cinderella, who’s, like, the most deserving person ever to marry someone who’s totally in love with her, just to find out that not only was “Cinderella” crazy, if this movie were historically accurate, but that her husband (played by dreamy Dougray Scott) was completely indifferent to her affection?
I refuse to believe it.
So I’m just going to through historical accuracy out the window, and go back to believing that the movie “Ever After” is awesome, and that Drew Barrymore (who’s totally awesome) and Dougray Scott (who’s totally handsome) live happily ever after, dangit!
Why? Because, in the words of the comedian Eddie Izzard, “those are the rules that I just made up”.
And besides, Dougray Scott is totally hotter than Henry II.
|Maybe it's the puffy hat that just doesn't do it for me...|
Alright, I feel better now.
So, getting back to the point at hand, who’s this awesome old dead guy I’m talking about? Queue the harps and angels, people, because it’s none other than…
LEONARDO DA VINCI!!!
|Je t'aime, Leo! *Muah*|
|Pretty nice digs, old man :)|
Yep, you heard right! My old buddy hung out here in the Loire Valley, in a chateau named “Clos Lucé”, for the last three years of his life after he was invited here by François I, and died right here in Amboise, in this large estate filled with pretty gardens and plenty of space for painting stuff-like the Mona Lisa, Saint John the Baptist, and The Virgin and Child. The fact that he worked here, relaxed here, slept here, and died here, is really, really cool, if not a little creepy (awesomely creepy, that is). The basement has been transformed into a museum filled with models of his inventions, and some are located in the gardens outside in full size, like a cannon, a tank, and a drawbridge.
After hanging out with the kings and Mr. Genius –guy, my friend Sandra and I made our way back towards the bus, with me spotting a tiny, tiny sign pointed towards a fountain near the parking deck. I need to explain right now about how fascinated I am about hearing of great people in history (or in movies, bien sûr), great leaders, martyrs, and artists, and how stuff is always just “hanging out” for people to see, like it was just part of everyday life. Here in the town of great kings and da Vinci was a sculpted fountain made by another great artist, whose inspiration came from his German upbringing, his draft by both fronts during WWI, and his capture and escape from Nazi prisons-twice. Standing in front of our bus, just “hangin’ out”, was a sculpture by Max Ernst, entitled “In the Eaters, Too Funny, Genius”.
|"So you go past that fountain by that really famous artist by the parking lot...."|
So, after hanging out with kings François I and Henry II, Leonardo da Vinci, and Max Ernst, we hopped on the bus, eagerly awaiting my chance to eat real pumpkin pie, which was given to Sandra and I by other American girls who just happened to be on the same excursion, and who brought the ingredients with them, canned pumpkin and all, to make the pie for Thanksgiving.
I was truly surrounded by geniuses.
Our next stop was to the chateau in Blois, where Joan of Arc made this spot her base of operations until her issues with Jean d’Orleans occurred, starting the downward spiral of her life before being burned for heresy. I’m posting a pseudo-awesome picture of it below, as both my camera batteries died, since I forgot to charge them after coming back from Paris:
|As I said, just hanging out, you know|
Lastly, we visited the chateau de Cheverney, located in, well, Cheverney. This was my next favorite place on the tour (with da Vinci’s last dwellings being the first), which was used by the illustrator Hergé for his bande dessinée named TinTin, now a major motion picture by Steven Spielberg.
|Now where did I see that before...?|
Apparently, the marquis who own this huge place still live here, on the second floor, and there’s even a space for a working garden next to the hunting dog kennel (which smelled horrible because of the damp weather and the dogs—just sayin’). I’m not familiar with the comic strip, but I am familiar with pumpkin pie (as I’ve stated earlier in this blog), and lo and behold, I found a huge pumpkin in the garden! It’s like Halloween and Thanksgiving were wrapped up just for me today!
|That'll make a LOTTA punkin' pies!|
|It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! In French!|
From surreal sights to surrealist artists, at the end of the day, my mind was plein de grandeur!