Tag Archives: Chateau de Chenonceau

The Inimitable Biltmore Estate

At 178,926 square feet, the Biltmore—the Vanderbilt family’s 8,000 acre estate— ranks as America’s largest privately owned home, and I’ve wanted to visit for about 50 years, particularly after hearing the rumor that we’re related by marriage to the Vanderbilts (many cousins-removed ago). In the early 2000’s (at the height of our family’s musical ministry), I was negotiating with the Biltmore to sing gospel music there one Sunday afternoon           (which they still do, by the way),  although one of my closest friends ended up planning her wedding for that same weekend, and being in the wedding preempted everything else! Nevertheless, the mystique of America’s grandest estate nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains hovered like mist in the back of my mind, and last May, after visiting many of the gorgeous châteaux along the Loire River in France, several of which were the French Renaissance inspirations for the Biltmore,    such as  Château de Blois,        Château de Chenonceau,         and Château de Chambord,         I realized that a trip to the Biltmore was still on my unconscious bucket list. So, when we attended a conference this May just 15 miles from the Biltmore, you can imagine my excitement to see this romantic tribute  to America’s Gilded Age!  Yesterday I shared photos from the gardens (in conjunction with thoughts for pondering how to overcome your past and fulfill your potential),  but today I want to share a few photos from the inside of this grand home,  which would have made a worthy location for Downton Abbey! The Biltmore Estate has 250 rooms,  including 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces,  a dining room table that can seat up to 64 guests,   and many novelties for the 19th century,  such as  a 70,000-gallon heated indoor swimming pool  and one of the nation’s first bowling alleys to be installed in a private residence. Only half of George Vanderbilt’s collection of 22,000 books can fit in his library, and while we were visiting, their was a special exhibition of costumes  and information related to movies that have been made  from some of the many first-edition classic books owned by the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilt family still live in and operate their estate,  but unlike many European grand estates and palaces, the Vanderbilts allow visitors to take photographs of all the home’s treasures,  including many beautifully preserves tapestries  and gorgeous paintings.  On a sunny day, like the day we visited,  one could easily spend their entire day touring the home,  enjoying lunch at one of their stable-turned restaurant venues,  and exploring their vast gardens.  Although we loved visiting, Alan and I both left thinking
how happy we are to live in our snug little “Tanglewood Cottage.”  I’m not even sure “I want a mansion, just over the hilltop.” Do you?  Actually, I don’t care where I live, just as long as it’s with Jesus!

Jesus said, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10).

“Mansion Over The Hilltop”

“I’m satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that’s silver lined.

Don’t think me poor or deserted or lonely
I’m not discouraged I’m heaven bound.
I’m but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown.

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold.” (Ira Stanphill)

(All photos, except the four related to our trip to France last May, were taken this May on our visit the the Biltmore Estate, near Ashville, North Carolina.)

Impressions of France: Selfies and Otheries

Eiffel Tower in eveningEverywhere you go these days, people are busy taking selfies. Have you noticed? Eiffel Tower. 5.6.16I have, and I’ve also noticed that selfifying special places is fun and contagious! Alan and Kathi in Chapel 5.16.16My cameras are too old to embed geographical data into the photographs, Gardens at Versaillesbut my cell phone does, Ville de Blois Gardensso everywhere we went on our recent tour of France, The Château de Chenonceau selfieI made sure to take at least one picture on my i-phone Versailles. Outsidejust to keep my records straight Chateau Villandry through someone else's sunglasses!and help me remember what I’d seen. The Palace of Versailles, Château de Versailles copyFor example, after we’d taken in all the grand sites in Paris Blois. France skyline from Ville de Bloisand then visited about a zillion châteaus along the Loire River Valley,Chateau Chenonceau Argonne Forest? it was hard to remember which was the Château de Chenonceau, Chateau Chevernyand which was the Château de Cheverny. Château de ChaumontAnd, what’s the difference between the Château de Chaumont Chateau de Chambord copyand the Château de Chambord, anyway? Chateau Chaumont SelfiesIt wasn’t too hard to remember some of them. Versailles Hall of MirrorsI mean, everybody recognizes the Hall of Mirrors in Château de Versailles, right?Chateau Villandry copy And I could never forget the  Château de Villandry, Chateau Villandrybecause it has some of the Europe’s most amazing gardens. Chateau Cheverny GardensI finally remembered them this way: Chateau Chenonceauthe Château de Chenonceau spans the Loire River. Chateau Cheverny. MarlinspikeThe Château de Cheverny is famous as the prototype for Tintin’s Marlinspike Chateau Cheveryny Hound Selfie??& their gorgeous pack of hunting dogs. (One wanted me to take a selfie for him.)Chateau Chaumont Gardens Château de Chaumont is famous for their modern art gardens,Chateau de Chambord Selfie and the Château de Chambord is the most massive château Chambord Chateau Card Roomin the entire Loire River Valley, boasting some 440 rooms! Leonardo da Vinci invention at Clos LuceLeonardo da Vinci retired at Clos Luce, and many of his inventions are there. Mont St. Michel AbbeyWell, this introductory post is going to be too long, Ville de Bloisbut I wanted to tell you that Eiffel Tower Selfiewe saw all sorts of marvelous places in Paris besides the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile copyWe climbed the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and watched sunset over Paris.Louvre Alan +KathiWe spent hours at the Louvre and Rodin Museums. The Avenue des Champs-ElyséesWe meandered along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées The Roue de Parisand enjoyed the evening ambience of the Roue de Paris.Sacré-Cœur everybodyOne evening we splurged on a taxi ride up to visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Highest Spot in Paris . Sacré-Cœurwhich is the highest point in Paris. Bell Tower in Notre DameWe attended services at the Notre Dame on Mother’s Day, and then we climbedThe Bell in Notre Dame up the bell tower to see where the hunchback of Notre Dame (maybe) lived.Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Garde in EtratatThen, during the following week, Omaha Beach. Francewe visited many of the World War 2 sites along the misty Normandy Coast. Mt. Saint Michel Alan and KathiWe spent a day at Mont Saint Michel, Bayeaux Tapestry copyand we learned about the Norman Conquest via the ancient Bayeaux Tapestry. Mont St. Michel copyOne day we walked 12 miles and climbed 52 flights of stairs! Flight to VeniceThere were times when we got very tired…but it was worth every moment!  🙂Looking out at ocean from Mont St. MichelYou know, the world is an amazing place, Chambord Chateau Alanand selfies (and otheries) are fun, Mona Lisa at Close Luce with Kathibut there’s a lot more to life than just taking pictures of ourselves, isn’t there? Chateau Chervery GardensAs we go along drinking in all the lovely experiences of this world, The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoilelet’s remember that our God is the greatest of all. Loire RiverHe is the One who created the earth Villandryand has made possible every good and beautiful thing we see around us!  Peony at Italian VillaGive unto the Lord the glory due unto his name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).