Visit the pristine Loire Valley in France in 2019 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the French Renaissance, as the year brings along a series of interesting events, visits, food tours, art expositions, symposiums and more to the guests. By Sushmita Srivastav
The Loire Valley is all set to start celebrating its French Renaissance heritage, marked by the 500th anniversary this year, which also marks the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the birth of Catherine de Medici, and the moment the first stone of the Château de Chambord was laid. During the entire anniversary year of 2019, an array of events, expositions, scientific symposiums, visits, and regional and European-themed courses will revive the spirit of the Renaissance while confronting modern challenges, and creating a dialogue between the history and the future. The three important elements—gardens, music and gastronomy, together form an essential part of the art de vivre, and will speak for the spirit of the Renaissance.
As soon as spring arrives, Catherine de Medici’s garden at Chenonceau Chateau will bloom into black and white flowers, echoing its iconic queen and her famous gallery that overlooks the Cher. On July 5-6, and August 2-3, Villandry’s gardens will be illuminated by thousands of candles for magical, romantic evenings in the Loire Valley’s most iconic French gardens. Chambord Chateau’s French gardens are here after renovation to offer unique views from the chateau’s terraces. In Amboise, the Naples terraces are where one can enjoy panoramic views of the Loire and the Royal Chateau. Other chateaux are also innovating in their gardens, like Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire with its theme of ‘paradise gardens’; Blois Royal Chateau with its Jardin d’Amour decorated with sculptures by Sweden’s Gudmar Olovson; and, the gardens of Rivau Chateau with their sweet-smelling roses and giant works of art!
For music lovers, Renaissance concerts will be held throughout summer, featuring Doulce Mémoire, a group specialised in music of the period. The most beautiful melodies will ring out from Bourges to Tours, stopping by Valençay, Amboise, and Chambord Chateaus. The European Renaissance Music Festival will be held by Clos-Lucé Chateau in late September. For its 14th edition, the festival will grant carte blanche to the Spanish musician Jordi Savall, a specialist in Renaissance and Baroque music. As for Amboise Royal Chateau, it will bring great Italian melodies back to life at the Avanti la Musica festival, running from mid-May to mid-August. At Langeais Chateau, the ‘Dance to the Renaissance’ exhibition will provide a taste of the era’s dancing. Make sure to head to Riveau Chateau on May 18 and Amboise Royal Chateau on July 25 to take part in a great Renaissance costume ball.
A total of 42 restaurants are participating in the ‘Taste the Renaissance’ initiative, serving Renaissance menus from May to September. The special menus served in participating restaurants will showcase the produce and recipes of the time, focusing on stewed fruits, sugar, artichokes, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, saffron, nutmeg and ginger that were found in almost every recipe as the predominant flavourings. Asparagus in gravy, lentil soup, aubergine cake, lemon chicken fricassee, chicken liver brochettes and pears stewed in wine… there will be endless mouth-watering dishes to savour!