Here are some more of my friend Sue's photos of the town of Blois, which is 25 miles north of Saint-Aignan. Blois is the administrative capital of our county (département) and was the seat of the French monarchy in the 1500s, at the time of the French Renaissance. Here are some quotes from the Cadogan guidebook to the Loire (© 1997, 2001) written by Philippe Barbour.
“East of the cathedral [in Blois] lies the Jardin de l'Evêché, a very pleasant 18th century garden, ending with a belvedere... The garden gives good views over the town and onto the Pont Jacques Gabriel. That architect also designed the bishop's palace [l'évêché] behind the cathedral. It briefly became the headquarters of the newly created département of the Loir-et-Cher after the Revolution, then a museum... but since the Second World War has housed the town hall after the previous one was destroyed.”
“The name Blois apparently stems from the Celtic word for a wolf, bleiz, conjuring up the picture of a thickly forested area around the original settlement. Indeed, forests still surround Blois to this day.”
“On the hillside [on the eastern side of the old town] you can explore many of Blois' most atmospheric, smart old residential streets leading up towards the cathedral. They contain a good number of fine old townhouses with appealing features: intimate courtyards with wells, stair towers, galleries and Gothic statues; sometimes Renaissance decoration; even the odd royalist symbol from Louis XII's period that survived the Revolution. Many royal courtiers took up home in this quarter.”
“The Pont Jacques Gabriel [at Blois] is surely the most refined bridge over the Loire. It replaced the medieval one swept away in 1716 and its famous architect is honoured in its name. An Egyptian-style needle adds grandeur and ornament to the central point.”