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On the trail of Francis I

François 1er

When Francis I became King in 1515, France was the main European power against the coalition of states led by the Emperor Charles V. It was also the time when Spanish and Portuguese expeditions were discovering the unknown lands of Africa, Asia and the New World. Luther, followed by Calvin, had promulgated the Reform. After the 100 Years War, France was at peace within its frontiers.

In that busy but nonetheless favourable context, the 32 years of the reign of Francis I left a deep mark on the history of France, as Professor Knecht underlines in his authoritative work on Francis I *: One hundred years before Louis XIV,??his reign was seen as a golden age of the French monarchy?The cultural heritage of Francis I is unique. Builder of châteaux whose rare beauty and originality has amazed the observers?? With the Routes of Francis I you can follow in the footsteps of the King, as knight, builder, traveller and Prince of the Renaissance all in one.

The 3 French Routes illustrate the milestones of the life of the King, while the 2 foreign cities of New York and Quebec serve as a reminder of his work abroad. Of the Francis I?s 14 sites, five are inscribed by UNESCO on the prestigious World Heritage List : in France, the Loire Valley and the châteaux of Chambord and Fontainebleau; abroad, the old quarters of Quebec and the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Of the 12 French sites, 3 châteaux owned by the State are run by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux : châteaux of Rambouillet, Talcy (,Chambord) and Fougères-sur-Bièvre.

* Robert J. KNECHT. Un prince de la Renaissance.
François Ier et son royaume. Fayard. 1998