37150 Chenonceaux, France
GPS: 47.33143083959, 1.067240800567
The Château de Chenonceau is located near the town of Amboise, in the French department of Indre-et-Loire, south of Paris. The chateau was built in the early 16th century on the site of a former fortified castle. Because of its architectural style, the richness of its interior rooms and the refinement of its landscaped gardens, it is considered by many to be the most romantic of the châteaux of the Loire Valley. These palace castles, like Chenonceau, represent the most beautiful masterpieces from the artistic period of the French Renaissance. It was during the reign of Louis XII (early 16th century) that the Chenonceau estate began to take shape. It was imagined as an island-castle inspired by Venetian palaces by Thomas Bohier (a politician and wealthy nobleman), accompanied by his wife Katherine Briçonnet.
The history of the Château de Chenonceau is largely associated with several important women, who have shaped and marked this famous “château des dames” (“Ladies’ Castle”). Among its famous owners, in chronological order, were: Katherine Briçonnet (who supervised its construction as architect from 1513 to 1521 on the pile foundations of a feudal castle), Diane de Poitiers (the favourite of the French king Henri II, was responsible for the development of the bridge and the creation of gardens), Catherine de Médicis (the wife of Henri II, organised banquets, balls or large royal parties in the two superimposed galleries that she arranged on Diane’s bridge), Louise de Lorraine (who lived there after the death of her murdered husband, King Henry III), Louise Dupin (who initiated major restoration work and the rescue of the château during the French Revolution), Marguerite Pelouze (who restored several of the building’s facades while creating a crypt), and Simone Menier (whose descendants still own the Château de Chenonceau)
Admired for its architectural elegance, the Château de Chenonceau has been open to visitors since 1913 (the date of its acquisition by the Menier family). It seems to be suspended on water, with its magnificent bridge spanning the Cher River, a tributary of the Loire. The discovery of the French gardens is the other highlight of the estate, as well as its fantastic collections of antique furniture, Flemish tapestries, and paintings by great masters. The floral decoration of the gardens is changed twice a year and requires the planting of tens of thousands of flowers, including roses grown on the estate. The Château de Chenonceau is second only to the Palace of Versailles as one of the most visited listed historic monuments in France, along with the neighbouring Château de Chambord.