Châteaux of the Loire Valley

Because no visit to France would be complete without visiting a château, our first IES excursion was to the Loire Valley. This region of France is known for it’s vineyards, orchards, and historic architecture. Several excursions are included in  IES tuition and it was great to enjoy this trip before classes officially began

The entrance to Château de Chenonceau

First we visited Chenonceau where Diane de Poitiers (a mistress of Henry II) and Catherine de’ Medici once lived. The château features a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles and spans across the River Cher.

The next day we visited Château du Clos Lucé. Leonardo da Vinci spent the final years of his life in Clos Lucé after being commissioned by King Francis I to create a mechanical lion. The building now serves as a museum dedicated to Leonardo,  containing models of his inventions and copies of famous works such as the Mona Lisa.

Leonardo lived at Clos Lucé from 1516 until his death in 1519.
A recreation of his workshop and sketches.

My favorite of the three is Château d’Amboise. A royal residence in the 15th and 16th centuries, the building was abandoned and damaged throughout history but has been restored and maintained by a descendant of Louis-Philippe.

Strong Downton Abbey vibes.
We toured the château and the town on our own.
Taking a break for cappuccinos and croissants.

IES classes officially began the next week on January 30. Some students also have outside courses at French universities or internships around the city. Taking a trip before class was a great way to meet people in the program and unwind before homework and exams! We have three more excursions and I’m looking forward to seeing more regions of France.

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