A Travellerspoint blog

Chateau de Chenonceau

sunny 23 °C

Tuesday morning we awoke refreshed and relaxed, ready to explore and tour one of the most beautiful chateaus in the Loire Valley region, Chenonceau. Chateau de Chenonceau is about an hour's drive from our cottage and we wanted to get an early start so as to try and avoid the crowds that typically arrive in tour busses.

One interesting thing occurred before we left the cottage. Cindy got up first to get a shower and while I laid in bed waiting for her to finish, I heard footsteps and creaking of the stairs on the stairway that went downstairs. When Cindy came out I told her that her mom was up because I heard her go downstairs. Cindy opened our bedroom door and, seeing her mom's bedroom door still closed across the small hallway, lightly knocked and called out "mom?". After a few moments her mom answered the door and when Cindy told her that we thought she was already up because I heard her on the stairs, she told Cindy she had just been awakened by Cindy's knocking.


Now Cindy's convinced the cottage is haunted. But wouldn't a ghost just float down through the floor, rather than walk down stairs? And even if it did walk, it wouldn't have any weight to cause the sound of footsteps or creaking because it's a ghost, right?

Anyway, after some lively breakfast table conversation about that subject (between the two of them; I just rolled my eyes and shook my head), we were off to visit Chenonceau. Cindy had figured out how to operate the onboard GPS system and programmed in our destination, though I still brought along the map just in case. However, no worries, we arrived without a problem except for where a new roundabout had been installed and the GPS didn't know about it. But it was well-marked and we stayed on course and DID arrive before the loaded tour busses.

In 1243 the original castle was built on this site on the banks of the River Cher. The Royal Treasurer Thomas Bohier bought the old castle in 1512 and destroyed it to build on the site. While Bohier was in Italy on business for the King, his wife Catherine Briconnet was in charge of the beautiful design and construction in the Renaissance style of the Chateau and completed it in 1521. Chenonceau is not the largest or the most historically significant castle in the region but it has touched the hearts of many across the centuries.


After the deaths of Bohier and his wife. the castle belonged to King Francois I and later King Henri II’s mistress, Diane de Poitier, to whom he gave it as a gift though this was against royal rules. Diane captured the Kings heart completely. A wild and beautiful ‘hunting goddess’, she was said to regularly swim naked at sunrise in the River Cher, and then riding throughout the nearby forest on her grey Stallion. Diane was devoted to her King and the beloved Chateau and it was she who commissioned the arched bridge gallery that crosses the River Cher and the formal gardens.


When King Henri II died, his wife, Catherine de Medici forced Diane to leave Chenonceau under royal rules, but gave her Chaumont in exchange. After taking possession of Chenonceau, Catherine de Medici had the bridge gallery that was built by Diane covered, and added another two floors above it. She also added her own garden.

This was surprising. Here we are, 4,450 miles from our home of Orlando, Florida, which is in Orange County (so named because the entire region used to be covered with orange groves) and at the entrance to Chateau de Chenonceau in France we find...orange trees!


More of those swallow's nests under overhangs of the castle. Except these are piled one on top of the other, resembling some kind of swallow condos.


Cindy and her mom sitting on a bench at the castle entrance with the River Cher in the background.


As is the case with most castles, no video cameras are allowed and photos may only be taken with the flash off. Some of these will not be as good as they could have been, but they will give you an idea of what the inside looked like.

Here is the chapel/prayer room.


A royal bedroom. all of the bedrooms (8 or 9 in Chenonceau) in ALL of the castles look pretty much the same, with the only difference being the decor. They all have a canopied bed, an armoire, a fireplace, chairs, heavily draped windows and tapestries or paintings on the walls. Most of them have intricately designed ceilings.

One of my favorite pictures of Cindy; in fact I have it as the "wallpaper" now on my laptop screen. We were in the study and she was looking out the window to the River Cher. The lighting was absolutely perfect for the environment of the castle and I snapped this when she turned as I called out her name.

The bridge gallery, looking from the castle side to the end on the other side of the river.


Here's an outside view of the bridge gallery. The bridge gallery has some interesting history, apart from its construction by Diane and additions by Catherine. In World War I, it served as a military hospital. During World War II, the River Cher marked the boundary between free and German occupied France. The bridge through the castle became both a method of escaping occupied France, and a way for Resistance fighters to sneak back across into occupied France.


Going downstairs, we entered the service areas of the castle. Here is the room where game was butchered for meals.

Here is the kitchen, taken from the top of a short set of stone steps.


And a view of the same kitchen from the opposite corner.


We then walked upstairs to the second story (which is as high as the public can go) and out to the stone balconies that overlook the entrance at the front of the castle.


By this time the hordes of tourists were arriving as we left the castle and headed for the gardens. Here's Cindy's mom trying to snag a few grapes off the vine.


Cindy and her mom, sitting at the entrance to the garden with Chenonceau in the background.


A still shot of the fountain.


Looking from the far end of the garden up the River Cher toward Chenonceau.


On the opposite side of the entrance near the other gardens, Cindy's mom and I with the original medieval tower behind us and the castle behind the tower.


Cindy and her mom at the entrance to the other gardens.

Entering the small forest near the front of the grounds, with the garden and castle in the background.

That is one big Christmas tree!


Cindy and her mom in front of a decorative arbor.

Chenonceau also has a wine cellar on the property. Here are three photos I took while we were down in the cellar. We bought some bottles of wine here that were very, very good.

It was about 1:30 by this time and we were hungry, so we went over to one of the cafes on the grounds and enjoyed a nice lunch sitting in the dining area outside. After that, we took a leisurely ride back to the cottage, enjoying the countryside, before arriving "home" around 4pm.

Next post: Amboise and Le Clos Luce

Posted by WorldQuest 07:36 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Photos are gorgeous, enjoyed my second trip. Thanks Jeff, you did a great job.


by Kimsota

That castle is gorgeous!!!! What a beautiful country!

by mdonais1

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.