The Loire Valley Prepares for “500 Years of Renaissance” Excitement Throughout 2019

Chateau Amboise
Leonardo Da Vinci
Tombe Leonardo Da Vinci
Press release

The year 2019 is a very important one in the Loire Valley of France. It marks 500 years since the be-ginning of the French Renaissance, including several important events in the Loire such as the start of construction on the Château of Chambord and, most significantly, the death of Leonardo da Vinci in Amboise. With this in mind, the Loire Valley is commemorating "500 Years of Renaissance" throughout 2019, celebrating the artistic, scientific and intellectual legacy that took root in the region.

After all, already renowned for its regents, gardens, river and chateaux, the Loire Valley is also consid-ered the birthplace of the French Renaissance and, therefore, a wellspring of creativity, philosophy, sci-ence and literature. The dozens of tourist-favorite castles along the Loire River are probably the greatest byproduct of the times. And, fittingly, the Loire Valley has been listed by UNESCO as a World Her-itage Site for its cultural and natural importance.

So, anticipating a busy and festive year, the Loire Valley Regional Council put out a call for projects that exemplify four Renaissance themes: heritage, science and technology, arts and culture, and the art of living. From more than 500 proposals, an ambitious program has been developed, to be carried out in 2019 in locations throughout the Loire. Prominent among them are Orléans and Tours, two Top French Cities in an association of 29 regional capitals and smaller cities that are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget.

Orléans has special significance as the town liberated by Joan of Arc in 1429. This is well before the French Renaissance, but the city's contribution to the 500th anniversary celebrations is no less signifi-cant. One standout exhibition will be Leonardo da Vinci's Screw Reconstituted at the Saint-Pierre-le-Puellier church. From February to December, a reconstructed “Aerial Screw” flying machine, precursor to the helicopter, as designed by Da Vinci, will be on display. Gigantic in size – 18 feet in diameter, 11.5 feet tall and weighing 880 pounds – and looking fully “Renaissance” thanks to the materials used, the machine will be able to rise to a height of about 23 feet once spinning, using motors and onboard electronics.

At the FRAC Orléans, from March to August, the "Life After Architecture: Superstudio" exhibition of the greatest works by the Superstudio architecture group will be based on five themes that have im-portant echo in the Renaissance.

Meanwhile, nearby Tours, home to outstanding medieval architecture and one of the France's best-preserved half-timbered old towns, has several events planned. In art, the CCCOD (Olivier Debré Cen-ter for Contemporary Creation) will host the first major French exhibition by the Polish artist Alicja Kwade from February 1 to September 1.

In music, a “Leonardo da Vinci and Musical Invention” exhibit at the Musée des Beaux Arts (January to April) will be a musical and visual installation about Da Vinci’s musical inspiration. It will explain his reflections on the sounds of objects and the making of popular instruments. Later, from May 31 to June 2, the Saint-Cosme Priory will be the setting for Florilège Vocal de Tours (International Competition for Choral Singing), during which choirs from all over the world are invited to sing pieces of Renaissance music composed around the work of French Renaissance poet Pierre de Ronsard.

Other activities will include new guided tours, provided year-round by the Tours Val de Loire Tourist Office, that cover four topics through a Renaissance lens: residences and private manor houses, reli-gious architecture, remembrance sites and a general overview. Separately, there will be an exhibition on the role of Tours as the home of five Kings of France from 1444 to 1525, as well as other important figures of the nobility. For scholars, the 62nd International Conference on Humanist Studies of the Center for Advanced Renaissance Studies in Tours will be devoted in June to Leonardo da Vinci.

Finally, two traveling exhibits will make their ways to both Orléans and Tours. In June and July, Miroirs de Loire will be a large-scale visual installation of seven two-sided mirrors that embody the research done by Da Vinci on optics and light. Afterward, from August 15 to September 15, the Touring Digital Renaissance Show will hit numerous cities with an immersive, multidimensional visual and sound environment using new technology like augmented and virtual reality.

About Top French Cities –

Top French Cities is an association of 29 cities, from regional capitals like Bordeaux to important towns like Avignon and Versailles. They are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget. Most of these cities are university towns with a youthful atmosphere, but all of them reflect the heritage and distinctive flavors of the regions to which they belong. Many are forward-looking too, with historic buildings repurposed to house contemporary art and activity centers like Les Docks in Marseille. Many have created or integrated new, modern museums to contrast with their classical, architectural heritage, like in Nimes, where the cutting-edge Museum of Roman Civilization (Musée de la Romanité) is located across from the historic Roman amphitheater, or in Nantes, where whimsical mechanical creatures are being created, or in the UNESCO World Heritage Site concrete city of Le Havre.


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