Blois, Blois, Blois…

Do you want to know why I keep reiterating that this series is called “September ad-French-ure”? OK, pretend for a moment that you do. See, at the bottom of the right column of every page there’s this little drop-down menu for “Archives”, which groups my previous posts by month. For some odd reason, this has led to Google Analytics thinking that “December” is the most important word on my site, so just as a little game that I’m playing with myself (minds out of the gutter please…) I’m trying to see whether this series can knock December off the top spot. Except – oh shit – I just realised that I’ve now written December twice… oops, three times, but September only once twice.  *sigh*


A perfectly good picture from the Chenonceau kitchen ruined by my shaky hands (click to see the large version, to see what I mean)

We didn’t take many photos in Blois, so I’m giving you fair warning that there will be more talking in this post than in the last few. Thus, I’d like to start with a little aside about photography. I’ve already mentioned that I’m not much of a photographer, mainly because I can’t be bothered; it doesn’t necessary mean that I don’t appreciate a good photo. We’ve got a lot of blurry photos, because what looked perfectly good and fine on the little LCD screen on the camera often turned out to be blurry when viewed on the big screen. So apologies for the poor quality of some of the ones you’ve seen so far, and especially for the ones that you’re about to see.

There is one thing I want to show you though. We have a lot of shots like this…

Some, er... windows in the Mont Saint-Michel abbey

… where Jenny wasn’t actually interested in taking a picture of something, so much as trying to capture a photo of ambient lighting. So while there is the odd good picture of stained glass windows or sunsets, we possess a number of pictures of… well, light. Unfortunately, I’m quite short sighted, I have astigmatism, and I’m partially colour-blind, so I don’t see the world in quite the same way as she does. Therefore I consider things like subject and composition to be rather important in a picture. Now behold my attempt at capturing light:

One of the upper rooms in Villandry


Now while I’m being a smug bastard, let me also point out the cleverness of the title of this blog post. The French have this funny habit of dropping the pronunciation of the “s” at the end of words that have them. Hence “trois” is pronounced “twah” and “Blois” is pronounced… get it?

The aim of it isn’t to insult the French, but to give an impression of one particular experience that we had while in this city. Like the other places so far, Blois too has its own chateau. It’s not as big or as magnificent as the earlier ones – although it does have a very unique architecture spanning 4 major periods of French history; nor does it have a grand garden – being situated in the middle of the city. The unique thing about Chateau Blois is that every night they put on a “Son et Lumière” (sound and light) spectacular in the interior court and in fact, every Wednesday, they even have it in English. We arrived on a Thursday.

I didn’t understand a single word of the narration, but the pictures were pretty:

Despite what you see here, it was actually a lot darker

This external stairwell is quite magnificent, but it gets better...

Another "canvas" that you'll be seeing a lot more of throughout the show

The show begins, as does the narration...

There was a cool optical illusion (unintentional) where the light between the double pillars looked like pillars themselves

Medieval history, knights, horses, fighting... probably

Looks like a garden of sorts. Is there any point me pretending to narrate this thing?

Some stuff happens, and a funky new colour scheme appears

Their electricity bill must be huge

More gallavanting. What you can't see is that these pictures move (but don't animate)

Lights in the window to indicate famous historical figures having D&Ms inside

This would've taken some effort to do. They lit up different parts in different colours

Look at the columns. Can you tell which are the real ones?

OK this one I think I know. Anne de Bretagne. Her name came up a lot

They used different voices for different people. Not that it helped much

See does this mean that they died? What? What? I don't know!

A very subtle colour scheme. You have to go back to the earlier picture to see the difference

Look at this sinister fellow. A bad guy for sure, but nobody booed

Various portraits scrolled into view inside this frame

Some stern looking dudes. Ghosts from the past?

A bunch of rabble moving around. Unrest amongst the peasantry

A death of Shakespearean proportions

The murderer disappears into the shadows... dun dun DUUUUUUUN!

Now this was EPIC. Ever seen a real building cartoonified before?

A caricature of a building

It's curtains. The end! (No, really)

Something a little different to break the monotony of the chateau-hopping experience, don’t you think? Despite not understanding a single word of what was being said, I still found it really fascinating. If this piques your interest, I’m sure it’d only take 5 minutes on Youtube to find a recording of the English translation (we took a bit of video but it didn’t turn out too good. Jozef has almost the entire thing recorded from a previous trip.)

The next day, we had a look around the town, and did some shopping for the first time in France. As usual, we bought stupid things: a clock featuring a nature motif (with a little birdy swinging on a pendulum!) and plastic placemats for our dining table at home. Jenny redeemed us by buying a nice pair of red shoes.

Blois during the day

We had actually found a very nice camping site – very clean, with good facilities (including showers for the first time) and we were reluctant to leave. But there was so much more to see, we had to move on to the next stop on our itinerary.