Oh, Disney! With your magical, fairytale destinations that only you can dream of, right? Well, wrong. This beautiful earth is already home to the inspiration behind most of the locations we will find in our much-loved Disney favourites. I feature three of them; one of which I’d quite like to see, another we have visited already and a third that is definitely going to happen.
Chateau de Chambord
This magnificent but unfinished French castle is the Loire Valley’s largest. It was constructed by King Francois I in order for him to be near his mistress Comtesse de Thoury, Claude Rohan. I’m assuming discretion about the affair wasn’t quite his thing. Anyway, the Chateau de Chambord ended up featuring in a love story of a different kind through Beauty and the Beast. The original animated film is one of my favourites so this is a castle I would quite like to visit
Neuschwanstein Castle was the fairytale inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle and also featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The sad story behind the castle and the man whose dream it was to build it, King Ludwig II, is anything but a fairytale. After many years of her wanting to visit it, Cait and I made the trip to the castle in Bavaria, Germany only a couple of months ago for her 18th birthday.
Neuschwanstein was built on a piece of land that King Ludwig was familiar with, looking over at it from his childhood home Hohenschwangau Castle opposite.
The name ‘Neuschwanstein’ means ‘New Swan Stone’, but this isn’t what King Ludwig II had ever referred to it as, instead naming it ‘New Hohenschwangau Castle’. It is every bit as stunning as the pictures have you imagine it to be, even though the majority of it still remains unfinished, would you believe? Works on the build were halted after King Ludwig II’s murder. Oops! Did I say that? I meant, after his ‘mysterious and unsolved death.’ Although King Ludwig II had paid for the build from his own personal money, the kingdom of Bavaria had racked up severe debts that the King’s economist had failed to inform him of. Once King Ludwig had died, the castle was opened up to tourists in order to pay off the kingdom’s debts. Now, the castle sees approximately 7,000 tourists pass through every day.
The Brothers Grimm Tour
Germany is undoubtedly a magical place to visit and somewhere I have come to grow so fond of that I switched my degree to a German language one. The Brothers Grimm were the talented storytellers behind such tales as Rapunzel, The Frog Prince, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretal, albeit more macabre versions than those retold by Disney. Even so, there is a German Fairytale Route that takes you from Hanau, where Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s memorial is located, to Bremen, via plenty of storybook attractions along the road. This is definitely something we will be doing!
*The featured photo of Neuschwanstein at the top – that’s mine too. Don’t steal it.