No Joke: A Fairy Tale Castle--Chateau de Chaumont
Just a quick bit of inspiration for travel. Wouldn't you love to go to this fairy tale castle? It's Chateau de Chaumont, located approximately in the center of France. It was first built in the 10th Century by Count Odo, who, like many nobleman of the time, spent a lot of his life at war.
But he did build a castle that would be burned down hundreds of years later, on purpose, by Louis XI, as a punishment for political activities by its owner--which the king didn't like. Eventually, the chateau as we know it was built in the 15th century.
It fell into the hands of Catherine de Medici, one of my favorite mostly-evil lady bosses of history. There is a fascinating story about the castle and de Medici and her husband, King Henri II. Some tidbits: Diane de Poitiers was 20 years older than Henri and was his mistress from his teens until his death. Also, Catherine made the mistake of falling in love with her husband. She tortured herself by having a peephole drilled in the ceiling of his bedroom, which she used to spy on her husband and his mistress. Yet, Diane was devoted to the interests of the king, and insisted he visit Catherine frequently, so she would have heirs for Henri. The result was a number of children, whom she eventually ruled through. There's so much more to this story. Here's a Wikipedia link to de Medici: http://bit.ly/2nWgygb
Catherine used the castle for a few years, entertaining luminaries such as Nostradamus (she had a serious penchant for the occult). Eventually, she forced de Poitiers to trade away her own castle, Chateau de Chenonceau (which, it must be admitted, is even more spectacular than Chaumont), for Chaumont.
Chaumont fell in and out of various hands over the next centuries, with the French government taking it over in the '30s. It remained me a popular tourist site, and I would love to go there!