THE COUNTRY OF THE LOIRE.
THE second time I went to Blois I took a carriage for Chambord and came back by the Château de Cheverny and the forest of Russy ; a charming little expedition, to which the beauty of the afternoon (the finest in a rainy season that was spotted with bright days) contributed not a little. To go to Chambord, you cross the Loire, leave it on one side, and strike away through a country in which salient features become less and less numerous, and which at last has no other quality than a look of intense and peculiar rurality, the characteristic, even when it is not the charm, of so much of the landscape of France. This is not the appearance of wildness, for it goes with great cultivation; it is simply the presence of the delving, drudging, saving peasant. But it is a deep, unrelieved rusticity. It is a peasant’s landscape ; not, as in England, a landlord’s. On the way to Chambord you enter the flat and sandy Sologne. The wide horizon opens out like a great potager, without interruptions, without an eminence, with here and there a long, low stretch of wood. There is an absence of hedges, fences, signs of property ; everything is absorbed in the general flatness — the patches of vineyard, the scattered cottages, the villages, the children, planted and staring and almost always pretty, the women in the
fields, the white caps, the faded blouses, the big sabots. At the end of an hour’s drive (they will assure you at Blois that even with two horses you will spend double that time) I passed through a sort of gap in a wall, which does duty as the gateway of the domain of an exiled pretender. I drove along a straight avenue, through a disfeatured park — the park of Chambord has twenty-one miles of circumference — a very sandy, scrubby, melancholy plantation, in which the timber must have been cut many times over and is to-day a mere tangle of brushwood. Here, as in so many spots in France, the traveler perceives that he is in a land of revolutions. Nevertheless, its great extent and the long perspective of its avenues give this desolate boskage a certain majesty; just as its shabbiness places it in agreement with one of the strongest impressions of the château. You follow one of these long perspectives a proportionate time, and at last you see the chimneys and pinnacles of Chambord rise apparently out of the ground. The filling-in of the wide moats that formerly surrounded it has in vulgar parlance let it down, and given it an appearance of topheaviness that is at the same time a magnificent grotesqueness. The towers, the turrets, the cupolas, the gables, the lanterns, the chimneys, look more like the spires of a city than the salient points of a single building. You emerge from the avenue and find yourself at the foot of an enormous fantastic mass. Chambord has a strange mixture of society and solitude. A little village clusters within view of its stately windows, and a couple of inns near by offer entertainment to pilgrims. These things, of course, are incidents of the political proscription which hangs its thick veil over the place. Chambord is truly royal—royal in its great scale, its grand air, its indifference to common considerations. If a cat may look at a king, a palace may look at a tavern. I enjoyed my visit to this extraordinary structure as much as if I had been a legitimist; and indeed there is something interesting in any monument of a great system, any bold presentation of a tradition. You leave your vehicle at one of the inns, which are very decent and tidy, and in which every one is very civil, as if in this latter respect the influence of the old régime pervaded the neighborhood, and you walk across the grass and the gravel to a small door — a door infinitely subordinate and conferring no title of any kind on those who enter it. Here you ring a bell, which a highly respectable person answers (a person perceptibly affiliated, again, to the old régime), after which she ushers you across a vestibule into an inner court. Perhaps the strongest impression I got at Chambord came to me as I stood in this court. The woman who had admitted me did not come with me ; I was to find my guide somewhere else. The specialty of Chambord is its prodigious round towers. There are, I believe, no less than eight of them, placed at each angle of the inner and outer square of buildings ; for the castle is in the form of a larger structure which incloses a smaller one. One of these towers stood before me in the court; it seemed to fling its shadow over the place ; while above, as I looked up, the pinnacles and gables, and even the enormous chimneys, soared into the bright blue air. The place was empty and silent; shadows of gargoyles, of extraordinary projections, were thrown across the clear gray surfaces. One felt that the whole thing was monstrous. A cicerone appeared, a languid young man in a rather shabby livery, and led me about with a mixture of hurry and delay, of condescension and humility. I do not profess to understand the plan of Chambord, and I may add that I do not even desire to do so ; for it is much more entertaining to think of it, as you can so easily, as an irresponsible insoluble labyrinth. Within it is a wilderness of empty chambers, a royal and romantic barrack. The exiled prince to whom it gives its title has not the means to keep up four hundred rooms; he contents himself with preserving the huge outside. The repairs of the prodigious roof alone must absorb a large part of his revenue. The great feature of the interior is the celebrated double staircase, rising straight through the building, with two courses of steps, so that people may ascend and descend without meeting. This staircase is a truly majestic piece of humor; it gives you the note, as it were, of Chambord. It opens on each landing to a vast guard-room, in four arms, radiations of the winding shaft. One of these arms served as a theatre on the occasion on which Molière’s Bourgeois Gentilhomme was played to Louis XIV. My guide made me climb to the great open-work lantern which, springing from the roof at the termination of the great staircase (surmounted here by a smaller one), forms the pinnacle of the bristling crown of Chambord. This lantern is tipped with a huge fleur de lys in stone — the only one, I believe, that the Revolution did not succeed in pulling down. Here, from narrow windows, you look over the wide, flat country and the tangled, melancholy park, with the rotation of its straight avenues. Then you walk about the roof, in a complication of galleries, terraces, balconies, through the multitude of chimneys and gables. This roof, which is in itself a sort of castle in the air, has an extravagant, fabulous quality, and with its profuse ornamentation — the salamander of Francis I. is a constant motive — its lonely pavements, its sunny niches, the balcony that looks down over the closed and grass-grown main entrance, a strange, half-sad, halfbrilliant charm. The stone-work is covered with fine mould. There are places that reminded me of some of those quiet, mildewed corners of courts and terraces, into which the traveler who Wanders through the Vatican looks down from neglected windows. They show you two or three furnished rooms, with Bourbon portraits, hideous tapestries from the ladies of France, a collection of the toys of the enfant du miracle, all military and of the finest make. Tout cela fonctionne, the guide said of these miniature weapons; and I wondered, if he should take it into his head to fire off his little cannon, how much harm the Comte de Chambord would do. From below, the castle would look crushed by the redundancy of its upper protuberances, if it were not for the enormous girth of its round towers, which appear to give it a robust lateral development. These towers, however, fine as they are in their way, struck me as a little stupid ; they are the exaggeration of an exaggeration. In a building erected after the days of defense, and proclaiming its peaceful character from its hundred embroideries and cupolas, they seem to indicate a want of invention. I shall risk the accusation of bad taste if I say that, impressive as it is, the Château de Chambord seemed to me to have altogether a little of that quality of stupidity. The trouble is that it represents nothing very particular; it has not happened, in spite of sundry vicissitudes, to have a very interesting history. Compared with that of Blois and Amboise, its past is rather vacant, and one feels to a certain extent the contrast between its pompous appearance and its spacious but somewhat colorless annals. It had indeed the good fortune to be erected by Francis I., whose name by itself expresses a good deal of history. Why he should have built a palace in those sandy plains will ever remain an unanswered question, for kings have never been obliged to give reasons. In addition to the fact that the country was rich in game and that Francis was a passionate hunter, it is suggested by M. de la Saussaye, the author of the very complete little history of Chambord which you may buy at the bookseller’s at Blois, that he was governed in his choice of the site by the accident of a charming woman having formerly lived there. The Comtesse de Thoury had a manor in the neighborhood, and the Comtesse de Thoury had been the object of a youthful passion on the part of the most susceptible of princes before his accession to the throne. This great pile was reared, therefore, according to M. de la Saussaye, as a souvenir de premières amours ! It is certainly a very massive memento, and if these tender passages were proportionate to the building that commemorates them, they were tender indeed. There has been much discussion as to the architect employed by Francis I., and the honor of having designed this splendid residence has been claimed for several of the Italian artists who early in the sixteenth century came to seek patronage in France. It seems well established to-day, however, that Chambord was the work neither of Primaticcio, of Vignola, nor of il Rosso, all of whom have left some trace of their sojourn in France ; but of an obscure yet very complete genius, Pierre Nepveu, known as Pierre Trinqueau, who is designated in the papers which preserve in some degree the history of the origin of the edifice, as the maistre de l’ œuvre de maçonnerie. Behind this modest title, apparently, we must recognize one of the most original talents of the French Renaissance ; and it is a proof of the vigor of the artistic life of that period that, brilliant production being everywhere abundant, an artist of so high a value should not have been treated by his contemporaries as a celebrity. We manage things very differently to-day. The immediate successors of Francis I. continued to visit Chambord, but it was neglected by Henry IV., anti was never afterwards a favorite residence of any French king. Louis XIV. appeared there on several occasions, and the apparition was characteristically brilliant; but Chambord could not long detain a monarch who had gone to the expense of creating a Versailles ten miles from Paris. With Versailles, Fontainebleau, Saint-Germain and Saint-Cloud within easy reach of their capital, the later French sovereigns had little reason to take the air in the dreariest province of their kingdom. Chambord therefore suffered from royal indifference, though in the last century a use was found for its deserted halls. In 1725 it was occupied by the luckless Stanislaus Leszczynski, who spent the greater part of his life in being elected King of Poland and being ousted from his throne, and who, at this time a refugee in France, had found a compensation for some of his misfortunes in marrying his daughter to Louis XV. He lived eight years at Chambord, and filled up the moats of the castle. In 1748 it found an illustrious tenant in the person of Maurice de Saxe, the victor of Fontenoy, who, however, two years after he had taken possession of it, terminated a life which would have been longer had he been less determined to make it agreeable. The Revolution, of course, was not kind to Chambord. It despoiled it in so far as possible of every vestige of its royal origin, and swept like a whirlwind through apartments to which upwards of two centuries had contributed a treasure of decoration and furniture. In that wild blast these precious things were destroyed or forever scattered. In 1791 an odd proposal was made to the French government by a company of
English Quakers, who had conceived the bold idea of establishing in the palace a manufacture of some commodity not to-day recorded — possibly of soap or of candles. Napoleon allotted Chambord as a “dotation” to one of his marshals, Berthier, for whose benefit it was converted, in Napoleonic fashion, into the so-called principality of Wagram. By the Princess of Wagram, the marshal’s widow, it was after the Restoration sold to the trustees of a national subscription, which had been established for the purpose of presenting it to the infant Duke of Bordeaux, then prospective King of France. The presentation was duly made, but the Comte de Chambord, who had changed his title in recognition of the gift, was despoiled of his property by the government of Louis Philippe. He appealed for redress to the tribunals of his country, and the consequence of his appeal was an interminable litigation, by which, however, finally, after the lapse of twenty-five years, he was established in his rights. In 1871 he paid his first visit to the domain which had been offered him half a century before, a term of which he had spent forty years in exile. It was from Chambord that he dated his famous letter of the 5th of July of that year — the letter, directed to his so-called subjects, in which he waves aloft the white flag of the Bourbons. This amazing epistle, which is virtually an invitation to the French people to repudiate, as their national ensign, that immortal tricolor, the flag of the Revolution and the Empire, under which they have won the glory which of all glories has hitherto been dearest to them, and which is associated with the most romantic, the most heroic, the epic, the consolatory, period of their history — this luckless manifesto, I say, appears to give the measure of the political wisdom of the excellent Henry V. It is the most factitious proposal ever addressed to an eminently ironical nation. On the whole, Chambord makes a great impression, and the hour I was there, while the yellow afternoon light slanted upon the September woods, there was a dignity in its desolation. It spoke, with a muffled but audible voice, of the vanished monarchy, which had been so strong, so splendid, but to-day has become a sort of fantastic vision, like the cupolas and chimneys that rose before me. I thought, while I lingered there, of all the fine things it takes to make up such a monarchy; and how one of them is a superfluity of mouldering, empty palaces. Chambord is touching— that is the best word for it; and if the hopes of another restoration are in the follies of the Republic, a little reflection on that eloquence of ruin ought to put the Republic on its guard. A sentimental tourist may venture to remark that in the presence of several châteaux which appeal in this mystical manner to the retrospective imagination, it cannot afford to be foolish. I thought of all this as I drove back to Blois by the way of the Château de Cheverny. The road took us out of the park of Chambord, but through a region of flat woodland, where the trees were not mighty, and again into the prosy plain of the Sologne ; a thankless soil, all of it, I believe, but lately much amended by the magic of cheerful French industry and thrift. The light had already begun to fade, and my drive reminded me of a passage in some rural novel of Madame Sand. I passed a couple of timber and plaster churches, which looked very old, black, and crooked, and had picturesque wooden porches and galleries encircling the base. By the time I reached Cheverny, the clear twilight had approached. It was late to ask to be allowed to visit an inhabited house; but it was the hour at which I like best to visit almost anything. My coachman drew up before a gateway, in a high wall, which opened upon a short avenue, along which I took my way on foot; the coachmen in those parts being, for reasons best known to themselves, mortally averse to driving up to a house. I answered the challenge of a very tidy little portress, who sat, in company with a couple of children, enjoying the evening air in front of her lodge, and who told me to walk a little further and turn to the right. I obeyed her to the letter, and my turn brought me into sight of a house as charming as an old manor in a fairy-tale. I had but a rapid and partial view of Cheverny; but that view was a glimpse of perfection. A light, sweet mansion stood looking over a wide green lawn, over banks of flowers and groups of trees. It had a striking character of elegance, produced partly by a series of Renaissance busts let into circular niches in the facade. The place looked so private, so reserved, that it seemed an act of violence to ring, a stranger and foreigner, at the graceful door. But if I had not rung I should be unable to express — as it is such a pleasure to do — my sense of the exceeding courtesy with which this admirable house is shown. It was near the dinner-hour — the most sacred hour of the day ; but I was freely conducted into the inhabited apartments. They are extremely beautiful. What I chiefly remember is the charming staircase of white embroidered stone, and the great salle des gardes and chambre à coucher du roi on the second floor. Cheverny, built in 1634, is of a much later date than the other royal residences of this part of France ; it belongs to the end of the Renaissance, and has a touch of the rococo. The guard-room is a superb apartment, and as it contains little save its magnificent ceiling and fire-place and certain dim tapestries on its walls, you the more easily take the measure of its noble proportions. The servant opened the shutters of a single window, and the last rays of the twilight slanted into the rich brown gloom. It was in the same picturesque fashion that I saw the bedroom (adjoining) of Henry IV., where a legendary-looking bed, draped in folds long unaltered, defined itself in the haunted dusk. Cheverny remains to me a very charming, a partly mysterious vision. I drove back to Blois in the dark, some nine miles, through the forest of Russy, which belongs to the state, and which, though consisting apparently of small timber, looked under the stars sufficiently vast and primeval. There was a damp autumnal smell and the occasional sound of a stirring thing, and as I moved through the evening air I thought of Francis I. and Henry IV.
You may go to Amboise either from Blois or from Tours ; it is about halfway between these towns. The great point is to go, especially if you have put it off repeatedly ; and to go, if possible, on a day when the great view of the Loire, which you enjoy from the battlements and terraces, presents itself under a friendly sky. Three persons, of whom the author of these lines was one, spent the greater part of a perfect Sunday morning in looking at it. It was astonishing, in the course of the rainiest season in the memory of the oldest Tourangeau, how many perfect days we found to our hand. The town of Amboise lies, like Tours, on the left bank of the river, a little white-faced town, staring across an admirable bridge, and leaning, behind, as it were, against the pedestal of rock on which the dark castle masses itself. The town is so small, the pedestal so big, and the castle so high and striking, that the clustered houses at the base of the rock are like the crumbs that have fallen from a wellladen table. You pass among them, however, to ascend by a circuit to the château, which you attack, obliquely, from behind. It is the property of the Comte de Paris, another pretender to the French throne; having come to him remotely, by inheritance, from his ancestor, the Duc de Penthièvre, who toward the close of the last century bought it from the crown, which had recovered it after a lapse. Like the castle of Blois it has been sadly injured and defaced by base uses, but unlike the castle of Blois it has not been completely restored. “ It is very, very dirty, but very curious:” it is in these terms that I heard it described by an English lady, who was generally to be found engaged upon a tattered Tauchnitz in the little salon de lecture of the hotel at Tours. The description is not inaccurate ; but it should be said that if part of the dirtiness of Amboise is the result of its having served for years as a barrack and as a prison, part of it comes from the presence of restoring stone-masons, who have woven over a considerable portion of it a mask of scaffolding. There is a good deal of neatness as well, and the restoration of some of the parts seems finished. This process, at Amboise, consists for the most part of simply removing the vulgar excrescences of the last two centuries. The interior is virtually a blank, the old apartments having been chopped up into small modern rooms; it will have to be completely reconstructed. A worthy woman, with a military profile and that sharp, positive manner which the goodwives who show you through the châteaux of Touraine are rather apt to have, and in whose high respectability, to say nothing of the frill of her cap and the cut of her thick brown dress, my companions and I thought we discovered the particular note or nuance of Orleanism — a competent, appreciative, peremptory person, I say — attended us through the particularly delightful hour we spent upon the ramparts of Amboise. Denuded and disfeatured within, and bristling without with bricklayers’ ladders, the place was yet extraordinarily impressive and interesting. I should confess that we spent a great deal of time in looking at the view. Sweet was the view and magnificent; we preferred it so much to certain portions of the interior, and to occasional effusions of historical information, that the old lady with the profile sometimes lost patience with us. We laid ourselves open to the charge of preferring it even to the little chapel of St. Hubert, which stands on the edge of the great terrace, and has, over the portal, a wonderful sculpture of the miraculous hunt of that holy man. In the way of plastic art this elaborate scene is the gem of Amboise. It seemed to us that we had never been in a place where there are so many points of vantage to look down from. In the matter of position Amboise is certainly supreme among the old houses of the Loire ; and I say this with a due recollection of the claims of Chaumont and of Loches — which latter, by the way (excuse the Hibernianism), is not on the Loire. The platforms, the bastions, the terraces, the high-perched windows and balconies, the hanging gardens and dizzy crenelations of this complicated structure, keep you in perpetual relation with an immense horizon. The great feature of the place is the obligatory round tower which occupies the northern end of it, and which has now been completely restored. It is of astounding size, a fortress in itself, and contains (instead of a staircase) a wonderful inclined plane, so wide and so gradual that a coach and four might be driven to the top. This colossal cylinder has to-day no visible use ; but it corresponds, happily enough, with the great circle of the prospect. The gardens of Amboise, perched in the air, covering the irregular remnants of the platform on which the castle stands, and making up in picturesqueness what they lack in extent, constitute of course but a scanty domain. But bathed, as we found them, in the autumn sunshine, and doubly private from their aerial site, they offered irresistible opportunities for a stroll, interrupted, as one leaned against their low parapets, by long, contemplative pauses. I remember, in particular, a certain terrace, planted with clipped limes, upon which we looked down from the summit of the big tower. It seemed from that point to be absolutely necessary to one’s happiness to go down and spend the rest of the morning there ; it was an ideal place to walk to and fro and talk. Our venerable conductress, to whom our relation had gradually become more filial, permitted us to gratify this innocent wish — to the extent, that is, of taking a turn or two under the mossy tilleuls. At the end of this terrace is the low door in a wall, against the top of which, in 1498, Charles VIII., according to an accepted tradition, knocked his head to such good purpose that he died. It was within the walls of Amboise that his widow, Anne of Brittany, already in mourning for three children, two of whom we have seen commemorated in sepulchral marble at Tours, spent the first violence of that grief which was presently dispelled by a union with her husband’s cousin and successor, Louis XII. Amboise was a frequent resort of the French court during the sixteenth century; it was here that the young Mary Stuart spent sundry hours of her first marriage. The wars of religion have left here the ineffaceable stain which they left wherever they passed. An imaginative visitor at Amboise today may fancy that the traces of blood are mixed with the red rust on the crossed iron bars of the grim-looking balcony, to which the heads of the Huguenots executed on the discovery of the conspiracy of La Renaudie are rumored to have been suspended. There was room on the stout balustrade — an admirable piece of work — for a ghastly array. The same rumor represents Catherine de’ Medici and the young queen as watching from this balcony the noyades of the captured Huguenots in the Loire. The facts of history are bad enough, the fictions are, if possible, worse ; but there is little doubt that the future Queen of Scots learnt the first lessons of life at a horrible school. If in subsequent years she was a prodigy of innocence and virtue, it was not the fault of her whilom mother-in-law, of her uncles of the house of Guise, or of the examples presented to her either at the windows of the castle of Amboise or in its more private recesses. It was difficult to believe in these dark deeds, however, as we looked through the golden morning at the placidity of the far-shining Loire. The ultimate consequence of this spectacle was a desire to follow the river as far as the castle of Chaumont. It is true that the cruelties practiced of old at Amboise might have seemed less phantasmal to persons destined to suffer from a modern form of inhumanity. The mistress of the little inn at the base of the castle rock — it stands very pleasantly beside the river, and we had breakfasted there — declared to us that the Château de Chaumont, which is often, during the autumn, closed to visitors, was at that particular moment standing so wide open to receive us that it was our duty to hire one of her carriages and drive thither with speed. This assurance was so satisfactory that we presently found ourselves seated in this wily woman’s most commodious vehicle, and rolling, neither too fast nor too slow, along the margin of the Loire. The drive of about an hour, beneath constant clumps of chestnuts, was charming enough to have been taken for itself; and indeed, when we reached Chaumont, we saw that our reward was to be simply the usual reward of virtue — the consciousness of having attempted the right. The Château de Chaumont was inexorably closed: so we learned from a talkative lodge-keeper, who gave what grace she could to her refusal. This good woman’s dilemma was almost touching ; she wished to reconcile two impossibles. The castle was not to be visited, for the family of its master was staying there; and yet she was loath to turn away a party of which she was good enough to say that it had a “ grand genre,” for, as she also remarked, she had her living to earn. She tried to arrange a compromise, one of the elements of which was that we should descend from our carriage and trudge up a hill, which would bring us to a designated point, where, over the paling of the garden, we might obtain an oblique and surreptitious view of a small portion of the castle-walls. This suggestion led us to inquire (of each other) to what degree of baseness it is allowed to an enlightened lover of the picturesque to resort, in order to catch a glimpse of a feudal château. One of our trio decided, characteristically, against any form of derogation ; so she sat in the carriage and sketched some object that was public property, while her two companions, who were not so proud, trudged up a muddy ascent which formed a kind of back-stairs. It is perhaps no more than they deserved that they were disappointed. Chaumont is feudal, if you please ; but the modern spirit is in possession. It forms a vast clean-scraped mass, with big round towers, ungarnished with a leaf of ivy or a patch of moss, surrounded by gardens of moderate extent (save where the muddy lane of which I speak passes near it), and looking rather like an enormously magnified villa. The great merit of Chaumont is its position, which almost exactly resembles that of Amboise : it sweeps the river up and down, and seems to look over half the province. This, however, was better appreciated as, after coming down the hill and reëntering the carriage, we drove across the long suspension-bridge which crosses the Loire just beyond the village, and over which we made our way to the small station of Onzain, at the farther end, to take the train back to Tours. Look back from the middle of this bridge ; the whole picture composes, as the painters say. The towers, the pinnacles, the fair front of the château, perched above its fringe of garden and the rusty roofs of the village, and facing the afternoon sky, which is reflected also in the great stream that sweeps below — all this makes a contribution to your happiest memories of Touraine.
We never went to Chinon; it was a fatality. We planned it a dozen times, but the weather interfered, or the trains did n’t suit, or one of the party was fatigued with the adventures of the day before. This excursion was so much postponed that it was finally postponed to everything. Besides, we had to go to Chenonceaux, to Azay-le-Rideau, to Langeais, to Loches. So I have not the memory of Chinon ; I have only the regret. But regret, as well as memory, has its visions; especially when, like memory, it is assisted by photographs. The castle of Chinon, in this form, appears to me as an enormous ruin, a mediæval fortress of the extent almost of a city. It covers a hill above the Vienne, and after being impregnable in its time is indestructible to-day. (I risk this phrase in the face of the prosaic truth. Chinon, in the days when it was a prize, more than once suffered capture, and at present it is crumbling inch by inch. It is apparent, however, I believe, that these inches encroach little upon acres of masonry.) It was in the castle that Jeanne Dare had her first interview with Charles VII., and it is in the town that Francois Rabelais is supposed to have been born. To the castle, moreover, the lover of the picturesque is earnestly recommended to direct his steps. But one cannot do everything, and I would rather have missed Chinon than Chenonceaux. Fortunate exceedingly were the few hours that we passed at this exquisite residence.
“ In 1747,” says Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his Confessions, “ we went to spend the autumn in Touraine, at the château of Chenonceaux, a royal resi-
dence upon the Cher, built by Henry II. for Diana of Poitiers, whose initials are still to be seen there, and now in possession of M. Dupin, the farmer-general. We amused ourselves greatly in this fine spot; the living was of the best, and I became as fat as a monk. We made a great deal of music and acted comedies.” This is the only description that Rousseau gives of one of the most picturesque houses in France, and of an episode that must have counted as one of the most agreeable in his uncomfortable career. The eighteenth century contented itself with general epithets, and when Jean-Jacques has said that Chenonceaux was a “ beau lieu ” he thinks himself absolved from further characterization. We later sons of time have, both for our pleasure and our pain, invented the fashion of special terms, and I am afraid that even common decency obliges me to pay some larger tribute than this to the architectural gem of Touraine. Fortunately, I can discharge my debt with gratitude. In going from Tours you leave the valley of the Loire and enter that of the Cher, and at the end of about an hour you see the turrets of the castle on your right, among the trees, down in the meadows, beside the quiet little river. The station and the village are about ten minutes’ walk from the château, and the village contains a very tidy inn, where, if you are not in too great a hurry to commune with the shades of the royal favorite and the jealous queen, you will perhaps stop and order a dinner to be ready for you in the evening. A straight, tall avenue leads to the grounds of the castle ; what I owe to exactitude compels me to add that it is crossed by the; railway-line. The place is so arranged, however, that the château need know nothing of passing trains — which pass, indeed, though the grounds are not large, at a very sufficient distance. I may add that the trains throughout this part of France have a noiseless, desultory, dawdling, almost stationary quality, which makes them less of an offense than usual. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the light was yellow, save under the trees of the avenue, where, in spite of the waning of September, it was duskily green. Three or four peasants, in festal attire, were strolling about. On a bench, at the beginning of the avenue, sat a man with two women. As I advanced with my companions he rose, after a sudden stare, and approached me with a smile, in which (to be Johnsonian for a moment) certitude was mitigated by modesty, and eagerness was embellished with respect, He came toward me with a salutation that I had seen before, and I am happy to say that after an instant I ceased to be guilty of the brutality of not knowing where. There was only one place in the world where people smile like that — only one place where the art of salutation has that perfect grace. This excellent creature used to crook his arm, in Venice, when I stepped into my gondola ; and I now laid my hand on that member with the familiarity of glad recognition ; for it was only surprise that had kept me even for a moment from accepting the genial Francesco as an ornament of the landscape of Touraine. What on earth — the phrase is the right one — was a Venetian gondolier doing at Chenouceaux ? He had been brought from Venice, gondola and all, by the mistress of the charming house, to paddle about on the Cher. Our meeting was affectionate, though there was a kind of violence in seeing him so far from home, He was too well dressed, too well fed; he had grown stout, and his nose had the tinge of good claret. He remarked that the life of the household to which he had the honor to belong was that of a casa regia; which must have been a great change for poor Checco, whose habits in Venice were not regal. However, he was the sympathetic Checco still ; and for five minutes after I left him I thought less about the little pleasure-house by the Cher than about the palaces of the Adriatic. But attention was not long in coming round to the charming structure that presently rose before us. The pale yellow front of the château, the small scale of which is at first a surprise, rises beyond a considerable court, at the entrance of which a massive and detached round tower, with a turret on its brow (a relic of the building that preceded the actual villa), appears to keep guard. This court is not inclosed — or is inclosed, at least, only by the gardens, portions of which are at present in a state of reformation. Therefore, though Chenonceaux has no great height, its delicate façade stands up boldly enough. This façade, one of the most finished things in Touraine, consists of two stories, surmounted by an attic which, as so often in the buildings of the French Renaissance, is the richest part of the house. The high-pitched roof contains three windows of beautiful design, covered with embroidered caps and flowering into crocketed spires. The window above the door is deeply niched ; it opens upon a balcony made in the form of a double pulpit — one of the most charming features of the front. Chenonceaux is not large, as I say, but into its delicate compass is packed a great deal of history — history which differs from that of Amboise and Blois in being of the private and sentimental kind. The echoes of the place, faint and far as they are to-day, are not political, but personal. Chenonceaux dates, as a residence, from the year 1515, when the shrewd Thomas Bohier, a public functionary who had grown rich in handling the finances of Normandy, and had acquired the estate from a family which, after giving it many feudal lords, had fallen into poverty, erected the present structure on the foundations of an old mill. The design is attributed, with I know not what justice, to Pierre Nepveu, alias Trinqueau, the audacious architect of Chambord. On the death of Bohier the house passed to his son, who, however, was forced, under cruel pressure, to surrender it to the crown, in compensation for a so-called deficit in the accounts of the late superintendent of the treasury. Francis I. held the place till his death, but Henry II., on ascending the throne, presented it out of hand to that mature charmer, the admired of two generations, Diana of Poitiers. Diana enjoyed it till the death of her protector; but when this event occurred, the widow of the monarch, who had been obliged to submit in silence, for years, to the ascendency of a rival, took the most pardonable of all the revenges with which the name of Catherine de’ Medici is associated, and turned her out-of-doors. Diana was not in want of refuges, and Catherine went through the form of giving her Chaumont in exchange ; but there was only one Chenonceaux. Catherine devoted herself to making the place more completely unique. The feature that renders it sole of its kind is not appreciated till you wander round to either side of the house. If a certain springing lightness is the characteristic of Chenonceaux, if it bears in every line the aspect of a place of recreation, a place intended for delicate, chosen pleasures, nothing can confirm this expression better than the strange, unexpected movement with which, from behind, it carries itself across the river. The earlier building stands in the water ; it had inherited the foundations of the mill destroyed by Thomas Bohier. The first step, therefore, had been taken upon solid piles of masonry, and the ingenious Catherine — she was a raffinée — simply proceeded to take the others. She continued the piles to the opposite bank of the Cher, and over them she threw a long, straight gallery of two stories. This part of the château, which looks simply like a house built upon a bridge and occupying its entire length, is of course the great curiosity of Chenonceaux. It forms on each floor a charming corridor, which, within, is illuminated from either side by the flickering river-light. The architecture of these galleries, seen from without, is less elegant than that of the main building, but the aspect of the whole thing is delightful. I have spoken of Chenonceaux as a “ villa,” using the word advisedly, for the place is neither a castle nor a palace. It is a great villa, but it has the villa quality — the look of being intended for life in common. This look is not at all contradicted by the wing across the Cher, which only suggests intimate pleasures, as the French say : walks, in pairs, on rainy days ; games and dances on autumn nights; together with as much as may be of moonlighted dialogue (or silence) in the course of evenings more genial still, in the wellmarked recesses of windows. It is safe to say that such things took place there in the last century, during the kindly reign of Monsieur and Madame Dupin. This period presents itself as the happiest in the annals of Chenonceaux. I know not what festive train the great Diana may have led, and my imagination, I am afraid, is only feebly kindled by the records of the luxurious pastimes organized on the banks of the Cher by the terrible daughter of the Medici, whose appreciation of the good things of life was perfectly consistent with a failure to perceive why others should live to enjoy them. The best society that ever assembled there was collected at Chenonceaux during the middle of the eighteenth century. This was surely, in France at least, the age of good society, the period when it was well for appreciative people to have been born. Such people should of course have belonged to the fortunate few, and not to the miserable many, for the prime condition of a society being good is that it be not too large. The sixty years that preceded the French Revolution were the golden age of fireside talk and of those pleasures which proceed from the presence of women in whom the social art is both instinctive and acquired. The women of that period were, above all, good company; the fact is attested by a thousand documents. Chenonceaux offered a perfect setting to free conversation ; and infinite joyous discourse must have mingled with the liquid murmur of the Cher. Claude Dupin was not only a great man of business, but a man of honor and a patron of knowledge; and his wife was gracious, clever, and wise. They had acquired this famous property by purchase (from one of the Bourbons ; for Chenonceaux, for two centuries after the death of Catherine de’ Medici, remained constantly in princely hands), and it was transmitted to their son, Dupin de Francueil, grandfather of Madame George Sand. This lady, in her Correspondence, lately published, describes a visit that she paid, more than thirty years ago, to those members of her family who were still in possession. The owner of Chenonceaux to-day is the daughter of an Englishman naturalized in France. But I have wandered far from my story, which is simply a sketch of the surface of the place. Seen obliquely, from either side, in combination with its bridge and gallery, the château is singular and fantastic, a striking example of a willful and capricious conception. Unfortunately, all caprices are not so graceful and successful, and I grudge the honor of this one to the false and blood-polluted Catherine. (To be exact, I believe the arches of the bridge were laid by the elderly Diana. It was Catherine, however, who completed the monument.) Within, the house has been, as usual, restored. The staircases and ceilings, in all the old royal residences of this part of France, are the parts that have suffered least; many of them have still much of the life of the old time about them. Some of the chambers of Chenonceaux, however, encumbered as they are with modern detail, derive a sufficiently haunted and suggestive look from the deep setting of their beautiful windows, which thickens the shadows and makes dark corners. There is a charming little gothic chapel, with its apse hanging over the water, fastened to the left flank of the house. Some of the upper balconies, which look along the outer face of the gallery, and either up or down the river, are delightful protected nooks. We walked through the lower gallery to the other bank of the Cher; this fine apartment appeared to be for the moment a purgatory of ancient furniture. It terminates rather abruptly ; it simply stops with a blank wall. There ought, of course, to have been a pavilion here, though I prefer very much the old defect to any modern remedy. The wall is not so blank, however, but that it contains a door which opens on a rusty draw-bridge. This draw-bridge traverses the small gap which divides the end of the gallery from the bank of the stream. The house, therefore, does not literally rest on opposite edges of the Cher, but rests on one and just fails to rest on the other. The pavilion would have made that up; but after a moment we ceased to miss this imaginary feature. We passed the little draw-bridge, and wandered a while beside the river. From this opposite bank the mass of the château looked more charming than ever ; and the little peaceful, lazy Cher, where two or three men were fishing in the eventide, flowed under the clear arches and between the solid pedestals of the part that spanned it, with the softest, vaguest light on its bosom. This was the right perspective ; we were looking across the river of time. The whole scene was deliciously mild. The moon came up ; we passed back through the gallery and strolled about a little longer in the gardens. It was very still. I met my old gondolier in the twilight, He showed me his gondola ; but I hated, somehow, to see it there. I don’t like, as the French say, to mêler les genres. A gondola in a little flat French river ? The image was not less irritating, if less injurious, than the spectacle of a steamer in the Grand Canal, which had driven me away from Venice a year and a half before. We took our way back to the Grand Monarque, and waited in the little inn-parlor for a late train to Tours. We were not impatient, for we had an excellent dinner to occupy us ; and even after we had dined we were still content to sit a while and exchange remarks upon the superior civilization of France. Where else, at a village-inn, should we have fared so well ? Where else should we have sat down to our refreshment without condescension ? There were two or three countries in which it would not have been well for us to arrive hungry on a Sunday evening, at so modest an hostelry. At the little inn at Chenonceaux the cuisine was not only excellent, but the service was graceful. We were waited on by mademoiselle and her mamma; it was so that mademoiselle alluded to the elder lady, as she uncorked for us a bottle of Vouvray mousseux. We were very comfortable, very genial ; we even went so far as to say to each other that Vouvray mousseux was a delightful wine. From this opinion, indeed, one of our trio differed; but this member of the party had already exposed herself to the charge of being too fastidious, by declining to descend from the carriage at Chaumont and take that back-stairs view of the castle.
Without fastidiousness, it was fair to declare, on the other hand, that the little inn at Azay-le-Rideau was very bad. It was terribly dirty, and it was in charge of a fat mégère whom the appearance of four trustful travelers — we were four, with an illustrious fourth, on that occasion — roused apparently to fury. I attached a great importance to this incongruous hostess, for she uttered the only uncivil words I heard spoken (in connection with any business of my own) during a tour of some six weeks in France. Breakfast not at Azay-leRideau, therefore, too trustful traveler ; or if you do so, be either very meek or very bold. Breakfast not, save under stress of circumstance ; but let no circumstance whatever prevent you from going to see the admirable château, which is almost a rival of Chenonceaux. The village lies close to the gates, though after you pass these gates you leave it well behind. A little avenue, as at Chenonceaux, leads to the house, making a pretty vista as you approach the sculptured doorway. Azay is a most perfect and beautiful thing; I should place it third in any list of the great houses of this part of France in which these houses should be ranked according to charm. For beauty of detail it comes after Blois and Chenonceaux ; but it comes before Amboise and Chambord. On the other hand, of course, it is inferior in majesty to either of these vast structures. Like Chenonceaux it is a watery place, though it is more meagrely moated than the little château on the Cher. It consists of a large square corps de logis, with a round tower at each angle, rising out of a somewhat too slumberous pond. The water— the water of the Indre — surrounds it, but it is only on one side that it bathes its feet in the moat. On one of the others there is a little terrace, treated as a garden, and in front there is a wide court, formed by a wing which, on the right, comes forward. This front, covered with sculptures, is of the richest, stateliest effect. The court is approached by a bridge over the pond, and the house would reflect itself in this wealth, of water if the water were a trifle less opaque. But there is a certain stagnation — it affects more senses than one — about the picturesque pools of Azay. On the hither side of the bridge is a garden, overshadowed by fine old sycamores — a garden shut in by greenhouses and by a fine last-century gateway, flanked with twin lodges. Beyond the cheâteau and the standing waters behind it is a socalled pare, which, however, it must be confessed, has little of park-like beauty. The old houses (many of them, that is) remain, in France ; but the old timber does not remain, and the denuded aspect of the few acres that surround the châteaux of Touraine is pitiful to the traveler who has learned to take the measure of such things from the manors and castles of England. The domain of the lordly Chaumont is that of an English suburban villa; and in that and in other places there is little suggestion, in the untended aspect of walk and lawns, of the vigilant British gardener. The manor of Azay, as seen to-day, dates from the early part of the sixteenth century, and the industrious Abbé Chevalier, in his very entertaining though slightly rose-colored book on Touraine,1 speaks of it as “ perhaps the purest expression of the belle Renaissanee françoise.” “ Its height,” he goes on, “ is divided between two stories, terminating under the roof in a projecting entablature which imitates a row of machicolations. Carven chimneys and tall dormer windows, covered with imagery, rise from the roofs ; turrets on brackets, of elegant shape, hang with the greatest lightness from the angles of the building. The soberness of the main lines, the harmony of the empty spaces and those that are filled out, the prominence of the crowning parts, the delicacy of all the details, constitute an enchanting whole.” And then the Abbé speaks of the admirable staircase which adorns the north front, and which, with its extension inside, constitutes the principal treasure of Azay. The staircase passes beneath one of the richest of porticos — a portico over which a monumental salamander indulges in the most decorative contortions. The sculptured vaults of stone which cover the windings of the staircase within, the fruits, flowers, ciphers, heraldic signs, are of the noblest effect. The interior of the château is rich, comfortable, extremely modern ; but it makes no picture that compares with its external face, about which, with its charming proportions, its profuse yet not extravagant sculpture, there is something very tranquil and pure. I took a particular fancy to the roof, high, steep, old, with its slope of bluish slate, and the way the weather-worn chimneys seemed to grow out of it, like living things out of a deep soil. The only defect of the house is the blankness and bareness of its walls, which have none of those delicate parasites attached to them that one likes to see on the surface of old dwellings. It is true that this bareness results in a kind of silvery whiteness of complexion, which carries out the tone of the quiet pools and even that of the scanty and shadeless park.
I hardly know what to say about the tone of Langeais, which, though I have left it to the end of my sketch, formed the objective point of the first, excursion I made from Tours. Langeais is rather dark and gray; it is perhaps the simplest and most severe of all the castles of the Loire. I don’t know why I should have gone to see it before any other, unless it be because I remembered the Duchesse de Langeais, who figures in several of Balzac’s novels, and found this association very potent. The Duchesse de Langeais is a somewhat transparent fiction; but the castle from which Balzac borrowed the title of his heroine is an extremely solid fact. My doubt just above as to whether I should pronounce it exceptionally gray came from my having seen it under a sky which made most things look dark. I have, however, a very kindly memory of that moist and melancholy afternoon, which was much more autumnal than many of the days that followed it. Langeais lies down the Loire, near the river, on the opposite side from Tours, and to go to it you will spend half an hour in the train. You pass on the way the Château de Luynes, which, with its round towers catching the afternoon light, looks uncommonly well on a hill at a distance ; you pass also the ruins of the castle of Cinq-Mars, the ancestral dwelling of the young favorite of Louis XIII., the victim of Richelieu, the hero of Alfred de Vigny’s novel, which is usually recommended to young ladies engaged in the study of French. Langeais is very imposing and decidedly sombre; it marks the transition from the architecture of defense to that of elegance. It rises, massive and perpendicular, out of the centre of the village to which it gives its name, and which it entirely dominates ; so that as you stand before it, in the crooked and empty street, there is no resource for you but to stare up at its heavy overhanging cornice and at the huge towers surmounted with extinguishers of slate. If you follow this street to the end, however, you encounter in abundance the usual embellishments of a French village: little ponds or tanks, with women on their knees on the brink, pounding and thumping a lump of saturated linen; brown old crones, the tone of whose facial hide makes their night-caps (worn by day) look dazzling; little alleys perforating the thickness of a row of cottages, and showing you behind, as a glimpse, the vividness of a green garden. In the rear of the castle rises a hill which must formerly have been occupied by some of its appurtenances, and which indeed is still partly inclosed within its court. You may walk round this eminence, which, with the small houses of the village at its base, shuts in the castle from behind. The inclosure is not defiantly guarded, however, for a small, rough path, which you presently reach, leads up to an open gate. This gate admits you to a vague and rather limited pare, which covers the crest of the hill, and through which you may walk into the gardens of the castle. These gardens, of small extent, confront the dark walls with their brilliant parterres, and covering the gradual slope of the hill form, as it were, the fourth side of the court. This is the stateliest view of the château, which looks sufficiently grim and gray as, after asking leave of a neat young woman who sallies out to learn your errand, you sit there on a garden bench and take the measure of the three tall towers attached to this inner front and forming severally the cage of a staircase. The huge bracketed cornice (one of the features of Langeais), which is merely ornamental, as it is not machicolated, though it looks so, is continued on the inner face as well. The whole thing has a fine feudal air, though it was erected on the ruins of feudalism. The main event in the history of the castle is the marriage of Anne of Brittany to her first husband, Charles VIII., which took place in its great hall in 1491. Into this great hall we were introduced by the neat young woman — into this great hall and into sundry other halls, winding staircases, galleries, chambers. The cicerone of Langeais is in too great a hurry; the fact is pointed out in the excellent Guide-Joanne. This ill-dissimulated vice, however, is to be observed, in the country of the Loire, in every one who carries a key. It is true that at Langeais there is no great occasion to indulge in the tourist’s weakness of dawdling; for the apartments, though they contain many curious odds and ends of antiquity, are not of first-rate interest. They are cold and musty indeed, with that touching smell of old furniture, as all apartments should be through which the insatiate American wanders in the rear of a bored domestic, pausing to stare at a faded tapestry or to read the name on the frame of some simpering portrait. To return to Tours my companion and I had counted on a train which (as is not uncommon in France) existed only in the Indicateur des Chemins de Fer; and instead of waiting for another we engaged a vehicle to take us home. A sorry carriole or patache it proved to be, with the accessories of a lumbering white mare and a little wizened, ancient peasant, who had put on, in honor of the occasion, a new blouse of extraordinary stiffness and blueness. We hired the trap of an energetic woman who put it “ to ” with her own hands; women, in Touraine and the Blésois appearing to have the best of it in the business of letting vehicles, as well as in many other industries. There is in fact no branch of human activity in which one is not liable, in France, to find a woman engaged. Women, indeed, are not priests; but priests are, more or less, women. They are not in the army, it may be said ; but then they are the army. They are very formidable. In France one must count with the women. The drive back from Langeais to Tours was long, slow, cold ; we had an occasional spatter of rain. But the road passes most of the way close to the Loire, and there was something in our jog-trot through the darkening land, beside the flowing river, which it was very possible to enjoy.
The consequence of my leaving to the last my little mention of Loches is that space and opportunity fail me ; and yet a brief and hurried account of that extraordinary spot would after all be in best agreement with my visit. We snatched a fearful joy, my companion and I, the afternoon we took the train for Loches. The weather this time had been terribly against us : again and again a day that promised fair became hopelessly foul after lunch. At last we determined that if we could not make this excursion in the sunshine, we would make it with the aid of our umbrellas. We grasped them firmly and started for the station, where we were detained an unconscionable time by the evolutions, outside, of certain trains laden with liberated (and exhilarated) conscripts, who, their term of service ended, were about to be restored to civil life. The trains in Touraine are provoking; they serve as little as possible for excursions. If they convey you one way at the right hour, it is on the condition of bringing you back at the wrong; they either allow you far too little time to examine the castle or the ruin, or they leave you planted in front of it for periods that outlast curiosity. They are perverse, capricious, exasperating. It was a question of our having but an hour or two at Loches, and we could ill afford to sacrifice to accidents. One of the accidents, however, was that the rain stopped before we got there, leaving behind it a moist mildness of temperature and a cool and lowering sky, which were in perfect agreement with the gray old city. Loches is certainly one of the greatest impressions of the traveler in central France — the largest cluster of curious things that presents itself to his sight. It rises above the valley of the Indre, the charming stream set in meadows and sedges, which wanders through the province of Berry and through many of the novels of Madame George Sand ; lifting from the summit of a hill, which it covers to the base, a confusion of terraces, ramparts, towers and spires. Having but little time, as I say, we scaled the hill amain, and wandered briskly through this labyrinth of antiquities. The rain had decidedly stopped, and save that we had our train on our minds, we saw Loches to the best advantage. We enjoyed that sensation with which the conscientious tourist is — or ought to be — well acquainted, and for which, at any rate, he has a formula, in his rough-andready language. We “ experienced,” as they say, an “agreeable disappointment.” We were surprised and delighted ; we had not suspected that Loches was so good. I hardly know what is best there : the strange and impressive little collegial church, with its Romanesque atrium or narthex, its doorways covered with primitive sculpture of the richest kind, its treasure of a so-called pagan altar, embossed with fighting warriors, its three pyramidal domes, so unexpected, so sinister, which I have not met elsewhere, in church architecture ; or the huge square keep, of the eleventh century, the most cliff-like tower I remember, whose immeasurable thickness I did not penetrate ; or the subterranean mysteries of two other less striking but not less historic dungeons, into which a terribly imperative little cicerone introduced us, with the aid of downward ladders, ropes, torches, warnings, extended hands, and many fearful anecdotes —all in impervious darkness. These horrible prisons of Loches, at an incredible distance below the daylight, were a favorite resource of Louis XI., and were for the most part, I believe, constructed by him. One of the towers of the castle is garnished with the hooks or supports of the celebrated iron cage in which he confined the Cardinal La Balue, who survived so much longer than might have been expected this extraordinary mixture of seclusion and exposure. All these things form part of the castle of Loches, whose enormous enceinte covers the whole of the top of the hill, and abounds in dismantled gateways, in crooked passages, in winding lanes that lead to postern doors, in long facades that look upon terraces interdicted to the visitor, who perceives with irritation that they command magnificent views. These views are the property of the sub-prefect of the department, who resides at the Château de Loches, and who has also the enjoyment of a garden — a garden compressed and curtailed, as those of old castles that perch on hill-tops are apt to be — containing a horse - chesnut tree of fabulous size, a tree of a circumference so vast and so perfect that the whole population of Loches might sit in concentric rows beneath its boughs. The gem of the place, however, is neither the big marronier, nor the collegial church, nor the mighty dungeon, nor the hideous prisons of Louis XI. ; it is simply the tomb of Agnes Sorel, la belle des belles, so many years the mistress of Charles VII. She was buried, in 1450, in the collegial church, whence, in the beginning of the present century, her remains, with the monument that marks them, were transferred to one of the towers of the castle. She has always, I know not with what justice, enjoyed a fairer fame than most ladies who have occupied her position, and this fairness is expressed in the delicate statue that surmounts her tomb. It represents her lying there in lovely demureness, her hands folded with the best modesty, a little kneeling angel at either side of her head, and her feet, hidden in the folds of her decent robe, resting upon a pair of couchant lambs, innocent reminders of her name. Agnes, however, was not lamb-like, inasmuch as, according to popular tradition at least, she exerted herself sharply in favor of the expulsion of the English from France. It is one of the suggestions of Loches that the young Charles VII., hard put to it as he was for a treasury and a capital — “ le roi de Bourges,” he was called at Paris — was yet a rather privileged mortal, to stand up as he does before posterity between the noble Joan and the gentille Agnès ; deriving, however, much more honor from one of these companions than from the other. Almost as delicate a relic of antiquity as this fascinating tomb is the exquisite oratory of Anne of Brittany, among the apartments of the castle the only chamber worthy of note. This small room, hardly larger than a closet, and forming part of the addition made to the edifice by Charles VIII., is embroidered over with the curious: and remarkably decorative device of the ermine and festooned cord. The objects in themselves are not especially graceful; but the constant repetition of the figure on the walls and ceiling produces an effect of richness, in spite of the modern whitewash with which, if I remember rightly, they have been endued. The little streets of Loches wander crookedly down the hill, and are full of charming pictorial “bits : ” an old town-gate, passing under a mediæval tower, which is ornamented by gothic windows and the empty niches of statues ; a meagre but delicate hâtel de ville, of the Renaissance, nestling close beside it; a curious chancellerie of the middle of the sixteenth century, with mythological figures and a Latin inscription on the front — both of these latter buildings being rather unexpected features of the huddled and precipitous little town. Loches has a suburb on the other side of the Indre, which we had contented ourselves with looking down at from the heights, while we wondered whether, even if it had not been getting late and our train were more accommodating, we should care to take our way across the bridge and look up that bust, in terracotta, of Francis I., which is the principal ornament of the Château de Sansac and the faubourg of Beaulieu. I think we decided that we should not; that we were already quite well enough acquainted with the long nose of that monarch.
- Promenades pittoresques en Touraine. Tours. 1869.↩