Château de Chenonceau - the most visited castle in the Loire Valley

Click on the photos of Chateau of Chenonceau to enlarge. Looks like dark clouds aren't that uncommon!

After Bridget sent me the link for a blogpost about Archibox, architectural puzzles of the Château de Chambord and other famous European monuments, I was reminded of the castle cakes that I used to make for my daughter's birthday. It brought back good memories of both her childhood and mine, when I daydreamed of living in a fairytale world inhabited by queens, kings and talking horses.

Diane de Poitier's bedroom

Perhaps the most magical castle in the Loire Valley is the Château de Chenonceau, also known as The Ladies' Château because of the six women who played such prominent roles in its history. After King Henri II gave Chenonceau to his mistress Diane de Poitiers in 1547, she embellished it by building the bridge that straddles the River Cher. Fast forward to World War II when a German artillery unit kept a close watch on the castle because the entrance was in the area controlled by the Germans and the door on the left bank was in the unoccupied zone. The River Cher was the line of demarkation.

Catherine de' Medici's bedroom and the view of the river from her study. 

While there are plenty of impressive rooms, I particularly enjoyed seeing the small study where Catherine de' Medici ruled France after the death of Henri II. If you're trying to connect the dots and wondering what happened to Henri's beloved mistress, Catherine de' Medici made Diane de Poitier relinquish Chenonceau in exchange for another castle, Chaumont-sur-Loire.

I wasn't the only one who was captivated by the floral arrangements.
Best of all were the flower arrangements in every room. Changed twice a week, most of the flowers are grown on the estate. To honor the tradition started by King Charles IX of giving sprigs of Lily of the Valley to women on May 1, these aromatic flowers enhanced all of the arrangements. Chenonceau is definitely the best smelling castle that I've ever visited!

Louise of Lorraine's black bedroom admired by masses of people.
As Château de Chenonceau is the most visited and most photographed castle in the Loire Valley, the downside are the hordes of people who stampede through the rooms as quickly as possible so that they can scratch it off their list before traveling to the next castle.

Louise of Lorraine's bedroom was particularly crowded as everyone wanted to study the black ceiling decorated with objects of mourning, such as feathers (from the old French word penne meaning sorrow), silver tears, grave-diggers' shovels, widows' cordons, crowns of thorns and the Greek letter lamba, the initial of Louise, intertwined with the letter H for her husband. After Henri III was assassinated in 1589, Louise retired to Chenonceau to meditate and pray.

Be sure to get the audioguide for additional information about the rooms and leave plenty of time to visit the gardens.

To see photos of Chenonceau on a sunny day, please visit Gwan's blog.

Touraine

What's the black and red speck in the Cher River? A man in a black wetsuit with a red kickboard getting his daily exercise. He would swim upstream against the current, take a swig of water while resting against the castle, float downstream and start the entire process all over again.
In response to Patricia H's comment, here are more photos of the flower arrangements. Please click on any that you would like to enlarge.
The chapel, where Mary Stuart's Scottish guards inscribed "Man's anger does not accomplish God's justice" (1543) and "Do not let yourself be won over by evil" (1546) on the walls.
The kitchen
The Five Queens' Bedroom
Cesar of Vendome's Bedroom
Some flowers outside. View of Chenonceau from Catherine de' Medici's garden.

Comments

  1. Interesting. And how so spell the letter "H". You offer "eat", pronounced "et", rhyming with "bet". I would think the French would say "osch" rhyming with Bosch. But if I'm doing a crossword and they ask for a five-letter word for "H", it's "aitch'. What do you say?

    And I had forgotten the May 1st lily of the valley giveaway. Such a romantic gesture. Did we talk about this before? Do people still stand on the street corners in Paris giving away sprigs of l.o.t.v. to people the love, or may want to love?

    I WANT a black bedroom. The color looks perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joseph, After reading your comment, I took out "eat" which may have referred to the Greek pronunciation of H. The part about the lettering came from the visitor guide and I should have paid more attention to it. As for the pronunciation of the letter "H" in French, "osch" rhyming with Bosch works for me.

      I didn't see anyone giving away sprigs of l.o.t.v. but I did see lots of people selling them. I guess that romantic gestures are more costly now! Since I didn't write about it, I'm happy that Finding Noon wrote a post about May Day.

      Other people must have felt the same way about the bedroom because they copied the idea and used it on the beams in the dining room in another castle. I'll include a photo of it in a future post. When he was in high school, my son had a grey bedroom. Three of the walls were light and the third wall was the same color as Louise's bedroom. I really liked it.

      Delete
    2. I would say more like "ash" than "osch". Forvo.com is a good place to check pronunciations in all different languages btw (although, as a New Zealander, I would say that it is far from representative of the variety of accents that exist in English and presumably other languages to a greater or lesser extent).

      Delete
    3. Well, I enjoyed the reference.

      Delete
  2. Visiting Chenonceau is like visiting the Louvre to see "La Joconde": the crowds are inevitable, but it's definitely worth it! Would love to see more flower arrangements: the muguet is so lovely.

    Patricia H

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since you asked, I posted a couple more photos of the flower arrangements in the post!

      The owners of our B&B told us that Chenonceau is less crowded during lunchtime and later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, we arrived with all of the tour buses in the morning.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the additional photos: the flowers are so gorgeous!

      Speaking of crowds, I recall (not too fondly) visits to Giverny and Mont Saint-Michel that would have been so much more enjoyable with fewer people pressing in behind me.

      Patricia H



      Patricia H

      Delete
    3. I haven't been to Giverny yet but Mont-Saint Michel was probably the most crowded place that I've been in France. And we went in the afternoon when many of the people had already left. One of these days I'll work up my courage and brave the crowds at GIverny.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the link! Oh yes, the tour groups... When we went, it was full of Russian groups - I overheard a French couple asking a Russian couple and apparently it was school holidays in Russia. Looks like you had even more crowds though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After we got home from the Loire Valley, I took another look at your pictures to see how many people were at Chenonceau when you visited. Next time, we plan to go to the Loire Valley on a non-holiday weekend - it will probably make a big difference.

      Delete
  4. love the additional photos--great floral pieces!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They said that they decorate the castle with flowers and light fires in the fireplaces to treat the visitors as guests. It worked for me - I was ready to get my suitcase and move in to Catherine de'Medici's bedroom!

      Delete
  5. Such beautiful flowers! They're really quite stunning.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's stunning. I've only ever seen Chenonceau from the outside, like many famous buildings. Chris isn't in to looking around indoors which is a shame since there's nothing I like more than pottering around a castle or stately home. I shall take myself and my camera up there sometime.

    ReplyDelete
  7. MK: 1) We adored this chateau! I think because we went on a Friday and with rain we lucked out and there were less people than you experienced. I think that Ms Diane Pointier was onto something because this and Chateau Sur Loire were our favorites.
    2) I have yet to go to Giverny, can I have an out and about day with you there? I guarantee I would get much more out of my visit! 3) The flowers were stunning here - it was all Sir L could talk about... Well that and how the castle blocks the entire river.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts