This gigantic castle in the countryside doesn't have much in the way of fancy furnishings, but the architecture is stunning. Apparently the double-helix staircase was designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, even though he died before the castle was completed.
This castle was basically designed as a hunting palace/place to stay when the king was traveling through the countryside. As such, it wasn't ever really inhabited. There was an interesting exposition on Chambord's role during WWII. Priceless pieces of art, such as the Mona Lisa herself, were stored here during the war to prevent them from being destroyed during the frequent bombings of Paris.
After Chambord, we continued through the countryside to the château of Cheverny.
This one was less impressive on the outside, but had amazing furniture, weapons, artwork, and a kennel of over 100 hunting hounds.
The doggies were simply adorable and we spent several minutes letting them sniff and slobber all over us.
We started our tour with a picnic of salami, prosciutto, apples, brie, goat cheese, cheddar, nutella, white wine, and fresh crispy baguettes from a nearby bakery.
Having been fortified, we headed over to the house for a tour of the first two stories. There were paintings of Don Quixote and nice fireplaces.
Apparently the current Duke and Duchess of Vibraye actually live in the house, so the whole west wing was off-limits to us. However, Andrew and I struck a deal and purchased the castle for our very own. You're all free to come visit, but mind you, we only have about 50 bedrooms, so reserve in advance or you'll be forced to stay in one of the guest houses.
They also had this weird Siberian elk-human hybrid thing on display:
We saw something similar at Chambord, in female form:
God save the world if these two ever decide to mate.
We also spent some time snickering over the lop-sided anatomy of one of the caryatids on the fireplace. Yes, if you add our two ages together, we still only equal 12.