The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 16

Bringing you the best of France including captivating towns like sunny Montpellier, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antiques capital of Provence, Gascony, Chateaux of the Loire Valley, Paris, Lyon, a long lost cheese story, mouth-watering recipes and a whole lot more.

This bijou chateau (at

This bijou chateau (at least by the standards of Amboise) is light and airy – perfect for an artist. The rooms are not enormous but big enough for a large canvas and to spread out the components for an engineering project. In one room, there are paintings in progress and a desk which looks as though the great man is still at work but popped out for a break. His cabinet of curiosities is very curious and somewhat macabre but you don’t get to draw the insides of bodies of humans and animals by looking at the outside so it’s not a surprise to discover such bits and pieces. He was an accomplished musician, wrote poetry, was an architect, botanist, engineer and had many more skills. His note books record the minutiae of his day from what he worked on to the fact that his cook was calling him to come and have lunch. Historians can tell the type of paper he used was French after he arrived so they’ve been able to date what he worked on at the chateau. One of the great projects Francis commissioned was to design a chateau that in itself was like a city (150 years later Louis XIV’s Versailles was to follow this route). It’s quite astounding to know that he worked on the Mona Lisa in this room. The Mona Lisa Francis I bought the Mona Lisa painting and adored it. He took it with him to another of his chateaux – Fontainebleau where he hung it in his bathroom. It seems strange to us but in those days bathrooms were thought to be creative spaces! If you’ve ever seen the painting in the Louvre, you might well wonder just what is it that makes her so very famous. According to Irina Metzl, the communications manager at the chateau, there are a

number of reasons not least of all the painting being stolen. In 1911 an Italian workman employed at the Louvre spent the night hiding in a cupboard, slipped the painting out of its frame and took off with it. At that time, the painting wasn’t well-known and the only way to see it was by going to the museum. The police printed 6,500 copies of the Mona Lisa and distributed them to the public. Every newspaper covered the story. Millions of people saw the painting and had an opinion. The Mona Lisa became the Kim Kardashian of her day – everyone knew who she was. The painting was eventually found, just down the road in what is now the Hotel La Giaconda. She, with her enigmatic smile, missing eyebrows, showing the special trademark technique Leonardo used called sfumato where you can’t see how the smile ends at each corner and the veil of craquelure, tiny age cracks in the paint now resides in majestic glory in the Louvre. Personally, I liked to see the reproduction on the wall at the Chateau du Clos Lucé where her maker finished creating her. Leonardo da Vinci passed away three years after he arrived in France and was buried, following his wishes, within the royal château. His tomb can be found in Saint- Hubert’s Chapel.

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