Château de Chenonceau

31 12 2011

Cheonceau seen from the tree-lined driveway

One of the last places we visited before heading back to Paris was the Château de Chenonceau. Which was AMAZING! Truly a fairy-tale castle.

Built across the River Cher in the Loire Valley, Chenonceau is the châteaux de femmes (ladies). The original Château was rebuilt after the 100 years war (one Tower from the original Chateau still remains). Henry II gave it to his mistress Diane de Poitiers in 1547, who designed the extension of the new Château to include the extension across the bridge but didn’t get it built. Diane also insisted on purchasing the Château legally, so it was undisputedly hers. After Henri II died, his widow Catherine de Medici through machinations and manipulations, forced the return of Chenonceau and fled there with the young king, Francois II and his Queen, Marie Stuart (1559). (Marie Stuart was better known in England as Mary Stewart – Mary, Queen of the Scots.)

Fast forward thirty years and following the murder of Henri III (they turned over pretty quickly in those days), his widow Louise de Lorraine remained at Chenconceau (which was where she had received news of his death and his final words asking her not to “leave this place”) (1589). One of the upper floor bedrooms has been restored to reflect Louise’s mourning room.

The next grand madame was Madame Louise Dupin who, despite her advanced age of 83 years old at the outbreak of the French Revolution, managed to protect both the Château and her family from the destructive forces. With the assistance of Abbe Lecomte, the priest of Chenonceau, the revolutionary forces were convinced of the strategic importance of maintaining the bridge across the River Cher (and hence the Château itself). Unfortunately a large number of paintings of the royal family over the centuries were destroyed at this time in the effort to prove the loyalties of the château did not lie with the royal family.

In more recent history, Chenonceau was a military hospital in WWI, where apparently soldiers recovering in beds in the long gallery which crosses the river, would hang fishing lines out the window. In WWII Chenonceau literally straddled the line of demarcation and served as a river crossing for refugees fleeing south away from Nazi-occupied France.

Today Chenonceau is spectacular, set in stunning gardens. The tree-lined driveway beautifully frames the shining white Chateau. The maze off in the forests to the left, and further up the formal gardens, visible from the balconies of the Château. The rooms have been restored to show both the luxury and grandeur and the original fittings. The worn and faded floor tiles remain so that you can step in the paths of history, but also see the original bright patterning around the edges. The kitchen is amazing – gleaming and spacious with copper pots and a huge wood-fired oven and stove.

The historical information in this posting comes from memory, from “Château de Chenonceau: History, Architecture and Gardens” (Beaux Arts Edition) and from the Chenonceau website.

Cheateau de Chenonceau, viewed from the driveway

the remaining tower from the old Chateau

entrance

entrance to Chapel

vaulted ceiling in the chapel

faded floor tiles in the entrance hall

Fireplace in Catherine de Medicis' bedroom, with her portrait over the fireplace

grand hall across the river. this was where the WWI soldiers hung fishing lines out the windows when the Chateau was a military hospital

kitchen

kitchenware

view of the kitchen

kitchen - the wood-fired oven and stove

kitchen

main hallway

indoor staircase (one of the earliest examples of a straight-line staircase as opposed to a spiral staircase)

the remaining portion of the old Chateau, viewed from the top floor of the new Chateau.

the formal gardens from the upper story

view of the links across the river from an upper story room

the bedroom of Louise de Lorraine. The entire room on the top floor is in black.

The Orangerie (now a restaurant)

the tree-lined driveway (looking away from the Chateau and towards the gates)

path to the maze

the maze in the gardens

folly in the forested part of the gardens


If you liked this post you might also like some more posts from France…..
Arrival in Paris
Caves of Lascaux
Notre Dame
French menus
Standing Stones of Carnac
Les Grottos en France
The Louvre
Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel)
Streets of Paris
Arc de Triomphe
Napoleon’s Tomb
Galeries Lafayette
Versailles


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7 responses

2 01 2012
Château de Chenonceau | Five-star backpacker | Scoop.it

[…] jQuery("#errors*").hide(); window.location= data.themeInternalUrl; } }); } mudmap.wordpress.com – Today, 5:51 […]

11 11 2012
Château de Chenonceau | Les Châteaux de la Loire | Scoop.it

[…] One of the last places we visited before heading back to Paris was the Château de Chenonceau. Which was AMAZING! Truly a fairy-tale castle. Built across the River Cher in the Loire Valley, Ch…  […]

11 11 2012
Château de Chenonceau | Les Jardins et châteaux de la Renaissance | Scoop.it

[…] One of the last places we visited before heading back to Paris was the Château de Chenonceau. Which was AMAZING! Truly a fairy-tale castle. Built across the River Cher in the Loire Valley, Ch…  […]

4 02 2013
Château de Chenonceau | Research. Organize. Describe. Share! | Scoop.it

[…] One of the last places we visited before heading back to Paris was the Château de Chenonceau. Which was AMAZING! Truly a fairy-tale castle. Built across the River Cher in the Loire Valley, Ch…  […]

2 03 2013
28 03 2013
Christa

Wonderful 🙂

30 03 2013
Mudmap

thanks! it is a pretty amazing place. who would think to build a chateau across a river?

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