The Chateau's exteriors offer an exceptional panorama spanning several centuries of French architecture and encompassing the town of Blois and the Loire valley.
At the departure point of your visit, you will see at a glance that around the courtyard, there exist four wings, four monuments with differing styles that attest to the changes in occupancy of the Chateau. For more than a thousand years, constructions and destructions followed one another according to the desires of the famous figures who called it home.
The terrace affords an exceptional view of the Loire and the old town. The visitor may recognize the church of Saint Nicolas, which is located below. The 13th-century tower on the terrace is one of the rare remaining vestiges of the medieval fortress, which protected the Foix neighborhood and the western town gate, which are situated just underneath. During the 17th century, the defensive vocation of the terrace was masked by the addition of a wooden stairway tower with an astronomical observatory at the top.
No longer existing, the gardens were created for Louis XII by Pacello da Mercogliano, an Italian gardener. Connected to the castle via a stone bridge topped by a gallery, the terraced gardens were triple-tiered. Sites for strolling, relaxation and contemplation, they were also sites for divertissement (poetry, music and jeu de paume tennis), and were dotted with points of interest such as the Queen's Pavilion, the Orangery and the fountains. After several successive development projects, in 1636 Gaston, Duke of Orleans founded in Blois a botanical garden outshining Paris's, and added a menagerie and an aviary. Sold as national assets at the time of the French revolution, they were divided into plots and parceled out.
Just two minutes from the foot of the Chateau, today's gardens poetically recall a splendid past and afford a magnificent view of the town and two facades of the castle.
As a vestige of the backyard of the medieval fortress, the forecourt of the castle came to be occupied by town houses; it was the Renaissance, and the court and the royal administration had to be fed and accommodated. In our times, the square is the site of the Blois-Chambord tourism office, a few restaurants and a garden at the emplacement of Saint-Sauveur church, which was destroyed in the 18th century. And facing the castle we find The House of Magic, a museum and theater of magic dedicated to the memory of Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, undoubtedly the most famous magician of the 19th century; he was born in Blois.
In parallel with the construction of his wing in brick and stone, Louis XII had the royal chapel built. Consecrated in 1508, during the 17th century it was amputated of its nave; only the choir remains standing today. Having deteriorated, it was completely rehabilitated, first in the 19th century, and then after the bombings of 1944. Brought into being in 1957 by the renowned master glassmaker Max Ingrand, the stained glass windows depict some of the major episodes in the history of Blois.