Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wednesday April 12 - The quintessential château Chenonceau

The Loire Valley is renowned for its castles and châteaux. High on the list for Emily and Ben is a visit to Chenonceau. 

This château is purely a pleasure palace and had no defensive purpose whatsoever.  With galleries that cross the Cher River, this château is frequently the cover of French travel books, like the Michelin Green Guide.

The original château was torn down except for its keep in 1512.
 The main living quarters of the current chateau were built under the direction of Katherine Briconnet, the wife of King Francois I’s finance minister. The new château stands on two piers of a former mill in the Cher river.

The château soon passed into the hands of King Henri II who gave the château to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers (1557). Diane was an excellent manager of Chenonceau and added one of the two formal gardens as well as a bridge linking the château to the south side of the river.
Diane de Poitier's garden

She was 20 years older than the king, radiantly beautiful, influential in Henri’s life and a thorn in the side of the queen, Catherine de Medici.  When Henri died in a jousting accident in 1559, the queen, now regent, exacted her vengeance. She forced Diane to give up her beloved Chenonceau for another château.

Catherine added extensively to Chenonceau. A two story gallery (long open space over the river) was built atop the bridge to provide space for her elaborate entertaining. She added a park and numerous outbuildings.
Catherine de Medici's garden

Catherine bequeathed Chenonceau to her daughter-in-law, Louise de Lorraine. When her husband, Henry III died, she retired to Chenonceau and wore white mourning dress till her death.  The châeau passed through several more royals before becoming the property, in 1733, of M. Dupin, the tax collector. Madame Dupin held salons with many of the literary folk of the day and became beloved by the townspeople. Because of her reputation, Chenonceau wasn’t damaged during the French Revolution. 

Inside Chenonceau the rooms are decorated as Catherine would have lived. You see bedrooms, the chapel, the gallery, kitchens and hallways. Entry is through a central door with a hallway that goes from front to the gallery back. Two rooms opened off each side of the hall. 

Some of the rooms were decorated in the style of Catherine de Medici. 
The 5 queens bedroom named after Catherine's daughters and daughters-in-law

Catherine de Medici's bedroom
Fireplace in Catherine's bedroom

The monogram of Catherine de Medici and Henri II carved in the fireplace mantel
There is a chapel off the Guard's room in the main floor. 
The chapel is atop the pier on the right
The inside of the chapel:

One of my favorite parts was the kitchens, under the main floor.
This is a hand turned well that fills a water tank

then you can pour water into a copper pitcher

Another option for getting water

The bread oven 

lots of copper pots are in the kitchen

The gallery (the long corridor building over the river) is where all the parties were:
Janis is ready to party in the gallery

Fireplace in the gallery
On the way out of the château, Janis got "lost" in the maze. Guess it's better to be shorter, Janis.
Can you find your way out Janis?
Time to find the picnic area for lunch.
David and Janis in the allée of plane trees

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