Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Friday April 21 - Châteaux of the rich and famous - Cheverny and Chaumont - part 2

On this dual châteaux day, we next headed to Chaumont. We learned about this château at Chenonceau - It is the castle Catherine de Medici gave to her husband's mistress, Diane de Poitiers, in trade for Chenonceau. (Not that Diane had much to say about the trade. The king was dead, Catherine was regent, and Diane had no status.)

Originally built in 1000 at the border between Anjou and Blois, the castle began life as a fortress. Burned to the ground by Louis XI in 1465, the rebuilt chateau became property of Catherine de Medici in 1550 and the famous trade happened in  1560. It is works commissioned by Mme de Poitiers which gives the chateau it's present design. Several other families owned the chateau before it was given to the state in 1938.

Today it is part of a public cultural program as well and two events were ongoing while we were there. One is the installment of modern art works in some of the chateau rooms and out-buildings. The other is an annual garden exhibition. We bought a ticket to both the chateau and the gardens.

You enter through a series of outbuildings that served as barns and stables for the estate and finally catch sight of the chateau as it overlooks the river.

Through the gate between the two towers, you enter a courtyard that once was enclosed.
The wing closing off the river view was torn down in the 1700s to allow river views from the courtyard.

There are the usual assortment of public areas for entertaining guests, bedrooms for kings and queens and smaller, private family rooms. And a chapel. However I was fascinated by the windows - each one was leaded in a different pattern that really attracted my eye. Here's a selection of what I saw:
looking across the courtyard toward the staircase of honor in the turret

The chapel had an art installation in it that was beyond my comprehension. It seemed to be littered with downed tree branches decorated in bric-a-brac which made it difficult to discern the chapel itself.
The chapel with its art installation. Not my kind of art.
The stained glass windows were beautiful and told the story of Chaumont

Catherine de Medici bedroom
Portrait of Catherine de Medici

The counsel room also had an art exhibit of glass globes with floral things inside, but it at least didn't cover up the magnificence of this room which was used for meeting with counselors and other important administrative folks.

I was likewise attracted to small details in carvings and floors that I found lovely to look at:
The porcupine was symbol of Louis XII of France. This was on the fire screen in the King's chamber.

I liked the pattern in this tile floor from one of the bedrooms.

Another porcupine

Intertwined Cs for the Cossé family, one of the owners. The mountain on fire in the middle is the literal translation of Chaumont: Hot Mountain

Carving on exterior wall of Nicolas entry gate

The dining room

The library
This smaller room was warm and inviting with its wood book cases

The grounds were beautiful, sitting above the town which nestled into the chateaus promontory along the river.

Open spaces with vistas across lawns gave way to views of the farm buildings.  Most impressive were the stables and dovecote. The horses of this estate were truly well-kept.

After a long day, the gardens were too much for me, so I found a pleasant place to sit while waiting for the others to investigate. The consensus is that we should come back when more is in bloom. Exhausted, we all fall into the cars for the 2-hour trip back home.

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