Sound and Light Show at Château de Blois

Sometimes it’s the things you stumble upon while travelling that make for the most memorable experiences. The Sound and Light Show at the Château de Blois was one of them.

Even though our accommodation was in Blois, we were using the town as a base to visit the châteaux of Chambord and Chenonceau and had no plans to visit the Château de Blois. However, while enjoying a not-so-French meal of pizza at the Restaurant Le Duc de Guise, there was a flyer on the table advertising the Son et Lumière de Château de Blois – a sound and light show at the castle. Initially we wrote it off – having spent the day on a six hour train from Munich to Paris, and then another hour getting to the Loire Valley, we were looking forward to sleep. However, the show was only presented in English for one night during our stay in Blois, and it looked awesome.

Sound and Light Show at Château de Blois

Under the arches at the Château de Blois
Sheltering from the rain while waiting for the Sound and Light Show to start

Just after 10pm we clustered in the courtyard of the Royal Castle of Blois and waited for the show to begin. And then it began to rain.

Luckily for us, just as the show started, the rain stopped – just as well, because the experience would not have been the same if we had to watch it huddled under the arches.

The château tells its story

The Sound and Light show is told from the point of view of the castle itself. The ‘castle’ recounts the intrigues, dramas, mysteries, and tragedies that have taken place over its existence.

The Sound and Light Show at Château de Blois
The Sound and Light Show at the Château de Blois uses projected images to recount the château’s history

 The show is an immersive experience: it is easy to forget that you are watching static images as the stories are played out using projections displayed on three walls of the courtyard with an accompanying soundtrack.

 Over the forty-five minutes the voice-over recounts many stories, though the two that interested me most were to do with Joan of Arc and Catherine de Medici.

Joan of Arc rests at Blois before breaking the siege at Orlèans

Joan of Arc rides into battle
Joan of Arc rides in to battle
I was aware of the story of Joan of Arc, but I didn’t know that she had a connection with the town of Blois: after being presented with her armour in Tours, she based herself in Blois to plan military operations. Before continuing on to fight the English and break their siege of nearby Orlèans, she had her standard blessed at the Eglise Saint-Sauveur.

Catherine de Medici guards her sons’ kingships

Catherine de Medici
The intimidating image of Catherine de Medici

 Catherine de Medici was not only Queen of France from 1547 – 1559, but also saw three of her sons – Francois II, Charles XI, and Henri III – become Kings of France and held a lot of influence over their rule. The Sound of Light show highlights Blois during the French Wars of Religion which plagued the reigns of Catherine’s sons and caused her youngest son, Henry III, to have his enemy, the Duc de Guise, murdered at Château de Blois.

Not interested in castles and history?

Even if you’re not interested in castles and history, this magnificent production might just change your mind! As the projections change the appearance of the Château de Blois it makes me want to go behind the scenes to learn more about how they put together Sound and Light Show.

The Sound and Light Show at Château de Blois
The projected images change the appearance of the Château de Blois
The Sound and Light Show at the Château de Blois
The outline of the Château de Blois shows how diverse the projections are

 All in all, the lack of sleep was more than worth it – the Sound and Light Show gave me a chance to learn more about the Château de Blois when I wouldn’t have otherwise had the time.

Have you ever been to a sound and light show? Were you impressed? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Why I Enjoyed Staying In Blois While Visiting The Loire Valley

The Francois I Wing of the Château de Blois
The Francois I Wing of the Château de Blois

When planning to visit France, I knew I wanted to visit the Loire Valley. The only problem was where should I stay?

After striking places off of the list, mostly due to bad train connections, I had narrowed the choice down to two locations: the popular Tours, which seemed to be the hub of the Loire Valley, or the town of Blois.

I settled on Blois mainly because of price, and ended up feeling like I’d made the right decision.

Blois is close to Chambord and Chenonceau

Since my main purpose in visiting the Loire Valley was to see the chateaux of Chambord and Chenonceau, I needed to compare transport options and whether it was easier to get to them from Tours or from Blois.

Blois is much closer to Chambord than Tours. I found it difficult to work out how to get from Tours to Chambord without going on a coach tour, while there is a bus service that leaves from Blois train station and takes you to straight to the gates of Chateau de Chambord (see the office of tourism for a bus timetable as it varies throughout the year). A return trip only cost two Euros.

Catching the train from Blois to the town of Chenonceaux meant changing trains in Tours (and a brief panic attack when I realised that I had gotten off one stop too early at the Tours train station instead of St Pierre des Corps. Luckily, the train to Chenonceaux ended up coming back through both, so I ended up on the right train anyway!). The journey from Blois to Tours and back again added an extra hour to the travelling time, but that ended up being more than cancelled out by the time I saved catching the bus to Chambord.

I bought the bus ticket to Chambord from the bus driver, and the train ticket to Chenonceaux from the helpful staff at the train station, which was far less crowded than the Tours train station (where I queued for help when I was worried I had missed my connection to Chenonceaux).

Blois has its own castle

The Château de Blois
The Château de Blois

While Tours does have the Château Tours, which houses an art gallery, it does not have the history of the Château Royal de Blois.

Statue of King Louis XII
Statue of King Louis XII above the entrance to the Château de Blois

One of the main residences of the Valois royal family during their time spent in the Loire Valley, the Château de Blois has seen seven kings and ten queens live within its walls. It is open during the day, or you can catch the stunning Sound at Light show at night.

Blois has a small town feel to it

When I did visit Tours, it felt more like a small city, full of cars, double-lane roads, hotels and people. The old town of Blois, however, felt quainter and quieter.

The Cathedral of Saint Louis, towering over the rooftops of Blois
The Cathedral of Saint Louis, towering over the rooftops of Blois

While my days were spent away from the town, exploring Chambord and Chenonceau, there was still plenty to do when I returned to Blois. There were walking trails throughout the old town, where you followed brass circles laid in to the ground on a treasure hunt to learn more about the history of Blois.

Blois walking trail
Following the walking trails around Blois is like a treasure hunt – I learned that Joan of Arc visited Blois and used it as a base for the battle of Orléans

There were a lot of restaurants (the two that I ate at were very good!). Most people were friendly and patient when I tried out my broken French on them, and I felt safe walking back to the hotel after a late night at The Sound at Light Show.

but you’d better watch out for the dragons…

The Maison de la Magie
The Maison de la Magie, opposite the Château de Blois

The courtyard at the front of the Château de Blois is normally a peaceful square, bordered by the château, the gardens, the office of tourism, a cluster of restaurants, and Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin’s House of Magic (Maison de la Magie).

Unless you’re there when the dragons come out.

I was sitting in the gardens killing time while waiting for my bus to Chambord, when I heard a low growl mixed with a beeping sound. Whirling around, I found that the pretty Maison de Magie now had five dragon heads sticking out from it! Later I would learn that this was a homage to Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin and combined his love of magic, timepieces and animatronics.

The strange dragons of the Maison de la Magie
The strange dragons of the Maison de la Magie

Ultimately I was happy with my decision to stay in Blois and would definitely recommend it as an option as a base for visiting the Loire Valley.

Where would you stay when visiting the Loire Valley?

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