France - September 2014

Loire Valley (2)

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini

The Loire with all its tributaries  is a large area of hundreds of square miles just west of Paris.  Kings went there and the nobility and court followed.  Many of the more than 300 châteaux began as fortifications in the 10C.  They enjoyed hunting, falconry and festivals as well as feasts and balls.  The churches and castles have not all survived intact through France’s tumultuous history.   Some were prisons; some are hotels.  

The Abbey of Cunault was founded in 847 by Benedictine monks fleeing the Normans.  Later, in the 11C-13C, the large Romanesque church, Église-de-Notre-Dame-de-Cunault was built.  The spire was added in the 15C.  The abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution and only the church remains.

The Abbaye de Fontevraud is the largest and most intact medieval abbey in France.  Founded in the early 11C, Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II of England, retired there.  After her death in 1203, it became the burial site of two English kings and two English queens. It was ruled by an abbess and not segregated by sex.  It ceased to be a monastery during the revolution.

The cloister was added in the 16C.

This is the roof of the kitchens.

Henry James said, “Chambord is truly royal - royal in its great scale, its grand air, and its indifference to common considerations.”  Francois I had a vision and its construction began in 1519 in a hunting park enclosed by a 20 mile wall.  Leonardo da Vinci is said to have helped with the plans.  The Château de Chambord has 400 apartments and was not finished until 1685. 

The roof is famous for its large terrace where people went to watch events or just get together.  The lantern tower is 105 feet high.

The Château de Chenonceau is the jewel of French Renaissance architecture.  It was built on the river Cher from 1513-21 for the king’s treasurer, Thomas Bohier.  Henry II, married to Catherine de’ Medici, gave Chenonceau to Diane de Poitiers in 1547 when he ascended the throne.  She was Henry’s lifelong companion and mistress, but forced to move when he died in 1559. 

The photographs were taken with Leicas, the M9 and M v240.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.  We can be contacted at   Our home page is

January 27, 2015                                                                                                                      wgfm