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Chateau de Blois

Blois, Loir-et-Cher

The oldest part of this huge (564 rooms, 75 staircases) and historic chateau dates from the 13th century, though a castle has existed here since the mid 9th century when it was attacked by Vikings. Traditionally held by the Counts de Blois, in 1391 it was sold to Louis I, Duke of Orleans. It was here in 1429 that Joan of Arc came to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before driving the English out of Orleans. Later, it became the favourite Royal residence of Louis I's grandson, King Louis XII (1462-1515) of France. The  chateau as a whole is comprised of four distinct architectural styles: the 13th century medieval fortress; the Louis XII Gothic wing; the 16th Century Francois I Renaissance wing (which displays the chateaus' most renowned feature, the external spiral staircase); and, the 17th Century Gaston d'Orleans Classical wing. It has indirectly inspired hundreds of houses across America, but to mention three of the more notable among them are Biltmore, 867 Madison Avenue in New York, and Ochre Court.

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