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Few of the many drives in the neighbourhood of the town possess more attraction for a summer day than that to Luyin, especially if the thermometer be at 95° in the shade, as on the occasioň of our going; for the greater part of the way lies along the Levée, by the side of the Loire, from which, even when there is not sufficient wind to stir its waters, the air comes in refreshing coolness.
The Castle of Luyin appears to be of great antiquity; and, judging from what remains of it, as well as from its position, must have been an important stronghold. But now, in a dilapidated state, it is occupied by the farmer who cultivates the adjoining land, partly as his dwelling-house, while some of the rooms are used as stores for his crop. The little chapel of the château, too, at a short distance from it, is in the same condition ; one end of it was full of casks and wine vats, the other was filled to the roof with straw. · There are cut in the rock on which the Castle is built, many subterraneous dwellings, some of which are still tenanted. At what period these first existed, none of the present occupants seemed ever to have conjectured, but it would have been an easy method for a feudal baron to keep his inferior dependents within call. We entered one or two of the caves, which we found whitewashed and decently furnished. The people looked healthy; and one old dame jocosely assured us that her residence was tout au fait parfait-for that in winter no cold could come through its walls, while in summer it was always cool.
The view from the upper windows of the Castle is, of its character, nowhere to be surpassed. The eye embraces a broad champaign, finely wooded, and increased in beauty by occasional glimpses of the river sparkling in the sun. The distant country so rises as to complete a panoramic view of extreme loveliness; while the salubrity of the climate and the fruitfulness of the soil has secured for this district the appellation, par excellence, of “ The Garden of France.”
The chief attraction however, at Luyin, are the ruins of the Roman Aqueduct, about a mile north from the village. We have already alluded to the remains of the Roman buildings to be met with in Anjou ; and in Touraine they are also nnmerous. In the city of Tours there are, besides the walls, a beautiful small chapel, with parts of other buildings, which constituted the Roman town of Cezar de Nomme. The aqueduct at Luyin had been constructed for the purpose of conveying water from a reservoir across a ravine; but whether, as is supposed, to some building on the site of the present Castle, appears to be uncertain. Six or eight of the arches are, more or less, entire, and about forty of the supporters still remain, and appear to have suffered little from the hand of time. One or two of them have fallen from the perpendicular, depending on their neighbours for support; and certainly the impression produced by the whole, extending as it does in a line of not less than a thousand feet, is imposing from its origin, as well as from its antiquity and extent.
The river scenery between Tours and Blois, though remarkable for its beauty, is not so varied and picturesque as that on other parts of the Loire. But islands and pretty villages are constantly coming in view, and the Castles of Ambois and Chaumont are both fine objects
in passing. The former is of much historical interest, and the latter has been repaired and greatly improved by Louis Philippe, its present proprietor. "During our residence at Tours, the river fell very considerably; and now the steam-boat, which, though a hundred feet in length, only drew eleven inches of water, frequently touched the ground. On approaching Blois it becomes narrower and of greater depth, although, at this part of the sail, the vine-clad banks of the river are somewhat monotonous in their appearance. Ere long, however, the city of Blois appears, deriving from its position with the château, and its many spires, an appearance of importance greater than its actual size entitles it to.
Blois is built upon several small hills; and the streets leading to the higher parts of the town are so perpendicular, that they are not only impassable for vehicles, but have been causewayed in the form of steps, to facilitate the ascent of pedestrians. The Grande Rue is a handsome street, and there are one or two others deserving that description, and the shops of every kind are excellent. But, alas! for the antiquarian, most of the curious old houses have been replaced by modern ones, or have been so much altered as to change their character. And it is only by poking about that a few are still discoverable in the Rue de Lubin, and some others in that locality. We were indebted to an English resident for drawing our attention to a house of the fourteenth century, which was the residence of Flormont Robertez, Superintendant of Finance to Louis the Twelfth. It is a fine illustration of the style of that epoch, and is in good preservation. Though not observed from the court-yard of this house, there is another almost adjoining it. It is only seen by going through a house in the Grande Rue, behind which it is situated. It is in the finest style of Francis the First, and was, during the residence of that monarch in Blois, the dwelling of Dupont, his most celebrated jurisconsult. The Salle de Spectacle is commodious, and is situated in the Place de Marché, one of the several handsome squares of the town. The ponderous Cathedral does little honour to the reputed genius of Mansard, for it is devoid of merit. But the portals of the Church of St. Nicholas (of the ninth century) are fine, as is the whole of the interior of that church. Its effect is, however, considerably marred by the tawdry furnishings, with bad pictures and modern prints of the worst description. The Church of the Jesuits is also greatly admired. And there is an old church, on the opposite side of the river, which exhibits a curious variety of styles-amongst which we could trace, with others less definable, those of the ninth and thirteenth centuries. But the whole forms an inharmonious conjunction,
The chief object of interest at Blois is its magnificent Castle. In its architecture is discernible five different characters--part of the structure having been built by the ancient Counts of Blois, from which family it came into the hands of the French Kings. The fronts to the East and South were built during the reign of Louis the Twelfth ; that of the North, with its noble staircase, was erected by Francis the First. The subjects of the ornaments of that part of the Castle built by Louis, though executed with admirable skill, are, in many instances, so utterly indecent, as to stagger us in our acceptance of the historical VOL. XCVI.
records of the reserved demeanour and pure moral character of Anne of Bretagne. The interior is now occupied by the military; and as we entered the Salle des Etats, we found the recruits engaged with their fencing lessons. In this same hall the States General repeatedly met, during the reign of Henry the Third. And it is said, too, that here the bodies of the Duke of Guise and his brother, the Cardinal, were burned, on the day following their assassination. The Duke was murdered in an apartment in that part of the building on the opposite side of the court-yard, and the spot is still pointed out to the visiter, as is the apartment into which the murdered Prince was dragged; and where Henry the Third, contemplating the work which had its origin in himself, is said to have given vent to a hypocritical ejaculation, in reference to the greatness of the mind which had recently animated the lifeless clay before him. The apartments of the hateful Catherine de Medicis are also shown, adjoining one of which is said to have existed a deep space, crossed at intervals with sharp steel blades. The interior of the apartment presented two doors, precisely similar in appearance; and when it was her wish to dispose of any one whose existence endangered her reputation or thwarted her wishes, after a bland reception, the she-devil gave him egress by that fatal door-way, a single step into which was irretraceable. Indeed, almost every part of this stupendous Castle has borne witness to scenes of stirring interest, if not of appalling horror; and although the interior is now much changed and dismantled, we more than once felt our blood chill as we paced its gloomy and mysterious looking chambers.
From the Observatory of Catherine, one of the highest points of the Castle, is seen a prospect of extraordinary extent and beauty-including Chambord on the one hand and the towers of Chaumont on the other.
The society of Blois is greatly changed in its character since the old times when the residence of the Court brought thither the flower of the nobility. It is still, however, said to be refined ; and the inhabitants boast that their language and pronunciation are even more perfect than those current at Paris. A few years ago there was an English settlement here of at least two hundred persons; but we were informed that our countrymen were brought into disrepute by one or two mauvais sujets of their number taking leave without paying their debts; and now, including all ages, there are not above thirty English in the town.
The morning we left Blois was not of promising appearance; and the rain beginning to fall before we were long on board the steamboat, forced us to keep below during a considerable part of the day. We passed many châteaus and villages, and the country on both sides occasionally opened into a wide expanse. But there are here few, if any, of those pretty islands which are constantly occurring between Angers and Tours; and the river had become so shallow, as repeatedly to present large sand-banks, and rendering necessary constant care to prevent our little steamer running aground. After passing the point at which it is joined by the Loirette, about five miles below Orleans, it was only by keeping close in by the deepest side of the river that we reached that city without any very lengthened interruption. Those who wish to see the Loire in perfection, should not visit it later than the beginning of the month of May; for although always charming, towards the end of July the change in its appearance and character is very great.
Orleans - containing 42,000 inhabitants —is, according to our thinking, more remarkable for its extent than for its beauty. It has many fine streets, certainly, amongst which the Rue Royale is particularly conspicuous; and its Cathedral is of itself a sufficient attraction. But he will be disappointed, who visits Orleans expecting either the picturesque beauties or historical attractions met with in the other cities of the Loire. The principal elevation of the Cathedral is of great extent, and imposing in its effect; and nothing can exceed the beauty of its details ; but internally it does not possess much grandeur. The other churches are poor, and many of them unoccupied and going to ruin. That of Saint Euverte is internally of very superior design to the Great Cathedral ;- but it was despoiled during the Revolution, and is now used as a store-house for fire-wood. We made a survey of all the curious old houses in the town, including that of Agnes Sorel in the Rue de Tabourg ; but, coming after what we had recently seen, they all, with the exception of that specially alluded to, proved deficient in interest. The Marie is a fine building; and the Palais de Justice, in the Grecian style of architecture, is a structure of great merit. We visited the Musée, but could not see the old pictures in consequence of an exhibition of the works of living artists, which embraced those of some of the most talented in France. The most attractive was the portrait of Rachel the Actress by Champentier, which we had seen at the Exposition at Paris in the spring of 1840. We do not intend to enter into a critique of the pictures individually ; but we may remark that in going round the room, we found our attention much less attracted by the resemblance to nature of the scenes depicted, than by their similarity in touch and character to the different ancient masters, who, in their misdirected studies at the Louvre, each painter had more or less slavishly adopted as his model.
There are very few English residents at Orleans, and we had no opportunity of judging of the state of society. We understood, however, that it is a gay place during the season for visiting; and when we were there, the Opera, with a fair Englishwoman for its prima donna, and a capital Cirque Olympique, were both in full force.
For some miles after leaving Orleans, on the road to Paris by Fontainbleau, the vine is cultivated; but shortly after passing Pethivier, we came upon that fine grain district which is designated the “ Granary of France." The wheat crops were certainly very luxuriant; but our fellow passengers in the Diligence, who were all French, could not persuade us to admit that we had none so rich in England. The same character of country continued till we approached the forests of Fontainbleau, which are of great extent, and through which we passed for several miles. On nearing Fontainbleau are angular hills, which seem to be composed of immense rocks, which have the appearance of having been thrown up by a volcano. Our fellow travellers drew our attention to these, and to some of the old trees we passed, so exultingly, that we were compelled to make them open their mouths in wonder at our account of some of the mountain scenery of Scotland, and of the old wood at the great English seats. We dined at Fontainbleau, where there were two parties who had come from Paris to see the château ; and who, judging from their appearance and the style of their carriages and servants, were of a better order of people than one generally meets in such places. We were never more struck, however, with the large and varied eating of the French ladies. Great eating in men is unseemly; but what we saw on this occasion led us to the determination that, if ever we gave a French woman the right to call us husband, we would have it “ nominated in the bond” that she should confine herself to English feedingalthough we would be deficient in candour if we did not admit a wish to retain to ourselves the full scope and benefit of the French cuisine.
The road from Fontainbleau to Corbeil is partly through the forests, and a fine undulating country is afterwards traversed. We did the distance in two hours and a half, and were not ill pleased soon to find ourselves on the Chemin de Fer, which carried us to Paris in an hour-generally by the side of the Seine-the country rising on each side of which is of varied and extraordinary beauty.
We trust the reader has formed a sufficiently just notion of our plan, to prevent him for a moment supposing that we have the slightest idea of inflicting upon him a description of the public buildings and every-day sights of Paris,—which has been frequently, and in two instances admirably, done by others. Still, however, in a large city, and more especially in the French capital, there are constant changes, and always something new to be observed by those in search of novelty ; and rather than carry the reader through institutions and scenes which all have either seen or read of, we shall confine our observations to what has not been noticed elsewhere.
. It appears but as yesterday that our attention was drawn to the resolution of the French Chambers to fortify Paris; and the Press of Europe was eighteen months ago loud in their condemnation of a proposal which indicated warlike feelings; and that at a time when declarations of peaceful intentions were being exchanged by the sovereigns of every kingdom within its limits. These fortifications are certainly an object of interest, and we therefore took an early opportunity of proceeding to the Bois de Boulogne, where, little more than half a mile beyond the Barrière d'Etoile, the work alluded to is in a more advanced state than at any of the other points at which it has been commenced. The wall is about 30 feet in height, with a small mound of earth raised above it. The stone for its erection is cut from the space forming the fosses, which are of considerable breadth, and are to be filled with water from the Seine, and from the source which supplies the great canal. The walls are backed by a broad mound of stone and earth, also taken from the ditch ; and from these facilities the work has proceeded with more rapidity than we anticipated; for at this point there is about a mile and a half in a state near to completion. To the unskilful eye of a civilian, this defence has a sufficiently formidable appearance; although its probable utility in the present state of military tactics is still much disputed by military men. Nothing is more certain, however, than that the work-people of France must be employed, to keep them out of mischief; and if this necessary