Denis-Papin staircase

An iconic attraction in Blois, the monumental Denis-Papin staircase overlooks the town, provides an unforgettable panoramic view, and regularly enlivens urban space with its original, grandiose decorations.

Right now: Stan Manoukian’s monsters

Stan Manoukian transformed the staircase in a den of dreamlike creatures, to celebrate the comics festival bd BOUM (where an exhibition will be dedicated to him at the Halle aux grains). A monsters hunt and workshops for children are also scheduled during this month.

A look back on past decorations

Summer 2021: The ideal library

Escape through reading was the theme of the summer of 2021 in Blois. More than 900 people responded to the City’s call and proposed more than 2,000 different books, to make up this giant fresque. Other sets have also been installed on public space, to continue traveling in other times and worlds through books.

Autumn 2020: tribute to Mickey

The world famous mouse invited itself to Blois, in the fall of 2020! It was the work of Régis Loisel, one of the sponsors of the Year of comics, and who paid tribute to Mickey in 2016 with his album Café Zombo.

Decoration made by the City according to drawings by Régis Loisel, in collaboration with the comics festival bd BOUM, Disney and Glénat BD editions.

Summer 2020: 20th anniversary of the inscription of the Loire Valley as a World Heritage Site

During the summer of 2020, Blois celebrated the 20th anniversary of the inscription of the Loire Valley as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Loire Valley has witnessed a harmonious development of interactions between human beings and their environment, over more than two thousand years of history. That is Unesco’s analysis, which inscribed it it 2000 on the World Heritage List, thus recognizing it as Outstanding Universal Value. Learn more with the Val de Loire Mission…

For the first time, the decor extended along Denis-Papin street, as an invitation to (re)discover the banks of the Loire, for a walk to the rhythm of the current and tern fights.

2019 : Mona Lisa, for the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance

La Joconde sur l’escalier Denis-Papin (pose)

Blois has been actively participating in the “500 years Renaissance(s)” program initiated in 2019 by the Centre-Val de Loire region. The year 2019 represents the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci at the Clos Lucé in Amboise, the 500th anniversary of the birth of Catherine de’ Medici and the 500th anniversary of the commencement of construction of the château of Chambord. Further information on the anniversary (in French only).

As a complement to the events organized in Blois to celebrate the first of these anniversaries and to pay tribute to Leonardo da Vinci, the risers of the Denis-Papin staircase are comprehensively covered over, from April to October 2019, by a modern-day reconstitution of the celebrated painting by Leonardo, the Mona Lisa.

A 10-kilometer (6-mile) panorama

Since the 19th century, the Denis-Papin staircase has provided a link between the upper town and the lower town of Blois. On the uppermost of its 120 steps, interrupted by four landings, visibility under a clear blue sky may attain 10 kilometers, and areas beyond Saint-Gervais-la-Forêt are glimpsed.

A statue of the great inventor Denis Papin

On the uppermost landing,  there is a statue of Denis Papin. Sculpted by Aimé Millet and inaugurated on 29 August 1880, it pays homage to the inventor from Blois, who imagined the steam engine; the adjoining street bears his name.

Giant and original decorations

Since 2013, the staircase risers have been “dressed” in giant artwork responding to what’s happening in town. Eagerly awaited each year, the visual display allows art to invest public space, dynamizes the town center, makes the town’s cultural high points better known, encourages active participation and enhances awareness of the town’s peculiarities in an original and playful manner.

Denis Papin (22 August 1647–1714) was a French physicist, mathematician and inventor. He is especially remembered for his work on what was to become the steam engine. Born a few miles from Blois in the small village of Chitenay, Papin took courses in a Jesuit school before studying at the university of Angers and earning a degree in medicine while showing talent and taking a pronounced interest in physics. After having received a doctorate in 1669, only two years later he was an assistant to the astronomer and polymath Christian Huygens, director of the French academy of sciences, at the Louvre. Exiled to England due to the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (Papin was a Huguenot), he invented the steam digester, a kind of pressure cooker with a safety valve. In later years, residing in Kassel (Germany), he established the principle of the piston steam engine (1697). Destitute and largely forgotten, he died in England.

Engraving of the inauguration and archival photo of the Denis Papin statue

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