Chateau de Chambord began as a hunting lodge in 1519 by Francois I. It is the largest chateau in the Loire and Francois I loved to come to the chateau to hunt stags and women. His two main passions were hunting and flirting. The king supervised the enclosure of the forest surrounding Chambord with the largest wall in France - almost 20 miles long and 8 feet high. He would ride out in to the forest and the women would watch from the tall terraces of the chateau. Hunting was regarded as an art by the court, and it was a favorite subject for painters and tapestry designers which were used to decorate palaces and hunting lodges.
Chambord has a grand staircase that was said to be designed by Leonardo de Vinci. It is a double staircase. Two flights of stairs spiral around each other so if you are walking up, someone else can be walking down and you don't have to pass each other.
Francis I reigned for 32 years, but only spent 72 days at Chambord. He never saw his project completed, but his son, Henry II and Louis XIV, were reponsible for making Chambord look the way it does today. By the 17th century Chambord had 440 rooms, 365 chimneys, 14 main staircases and 70 smaller stairways.
This is an amazing building and I feel lucky to have seen such a work of art.