Experience Loire home page

 

 

 Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley

 Chateau de Chenonceau  spanning the river Cher

Chateau de Chenonceau is the most visited and photographed chateau of the Loire Valley in France. It is often described as ‘the ladies chateau’ as throughout its history it is they who have most influenced its design and its destiny...it was not always the chateau we see today.

 

Thomas Bohier, in 1512, acquired what was a small fortress by the river Cher and decided to replace it with a 'Renaissance' style chateau leaving only the keep from the original building.

time span of Chateau de Chenoncea river span

It was his wife Katherine Briconnet who oversaw its build as her husband spent a lot of time away at war and she has left a great legacy. The chateau was later held over to the monarchy to pay-off debts and used by them to stage hunts and festivals.

Henri II gave it to his mistress Diane de Poitiers it was she who added the bridge over the Cher as well as the gardens.

When Henri died, the Queen, Catherine de Medici, forced Diane out of Chenonceau (to Chateau de Chaumont), even though by then she was its legitimate owner. Catherine proceeded to build the gallery and grand ballroom on Diane’s bridge which finally gave Chenonceau its now iconic look.

Diane would in fact refuse to live at Chaumont and the "Eternally Beautiful" lady of Chenonceau would finish her days in the nearby castle of Anet.

gate entrance to avenue leading to chateau de Chenonceau

As one of the most popular chateaux of the Loire Valley the chateau has plenty of parking places in large car parks as you enter the grounds but they can be busy so you may have to be patient. From there you enter the gate house to pay/collect your tickets and then you have a bit of a walk along a long the well worn route of the tree-lined avenue before catching your first glimpse of the chateau.

first sight of Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley

Depending on the time of year you are greeted with a variety of colourful displays(130K bedding plants are used in summer) that make you stop and stare before taking in the sight you'll have probably seen in pictures many times before but they are nothing compared to the real thing!

Bedroom of Catherine de Medici at Chateau de Chenonceau  Five queens bedroom at Chateau de Chenonceau

Bedroom of Louise de Lorraine at Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley  Bedroom of Diane de Poitiers at Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley

Chenonceau castle is well furnished with Renaissance furniture, a good collection of   16th and 17th century tapestries and a great number of masterpieces. The bedrooms of the ladies of the chateau, who played major roles in the history of Chenonceau are the most exquisite. Paintings by Le Primatice, Rubens, Le Tintoret, Rigaud, Nattier are among the most famous names that can be found here,

  stained glass windows in the private chapel of Chateau de Chenonceau

The small chapel, our favourite place in Chenonceau,is a delight, the original windows here were destroyed by a bombing in 1944 the replacement stained glass windows were made by a master glassworker in1954. There is a gallery where the 'royals' would attend mass. Allegedly it was saved during the Revolution  by the then owner, Madame Dupin, converting it into a wood store!

The large ovens in the kitchens of Chateau de Chenonceau   Copper pot display in the kitchens of Chateau de Chenonceau

The popular kitchens of chateau de Chenonceau with their collection copperware are located within its vaulted cellars on the first and second piers of the 'bridge'. There is a small landing platform beneath, this was where supplies would be transferred from riverboats to the servants for stocking.

laid out kitchen table at Chateau de Chenonceau

The 16th century chimney  in the pantry is the oldest in the chateau. The kitchens today look so pristine...it would be interesting to go back to a time when the staff were busying about trying to cater for their demanding royal hosts above and see what the real conditions were like!

The gallery that sits over the river Cher at Chateau de Chenonceau

The 60 metre long gallery is quite stunning with its chalk and slate tiled floor and it must have been a delightful ballroom. At the far end there is a door to give you access to the opposite bank of the Cher which is opened during high season.

mock up of hospital at Chateau de Chenonce

During the First World War, Chenonceau castle was used as a hospital. It is believed Madam Menier ( the wife of the then owner) even nursed some of the soldiers herself and in the second World War it was used as a route by the Résistance to enter Vichy (free) France from the German occupied part of the country as  the River Cher was the demarcation line between the two.

View of Catherine de Medici gardens from the chateau at Chenonceau

The gardens at Chenonceau offer great photo opportunities from its balconies. The Catherine de Medicis garden with its central pond vies for attention with Diane de Poitiers garden with its fountain much as the did in real life!

Diane de Poitiers garden at Chateau de Chenonceau

You can walk through the gardens illuminated at night on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in June and every evening during July and August starting at 21 h 30

There is a good restaurant/café, 'The Orangerie' built in what used to be the stables where you can have a meal or just a coffee to revive you. There is also a snack bar/creperie located near the ticket office.

The popularity of Château de Chenonceau means that it can at times be very busy I would not recommend mid-afternoon in high season if you want to avoid the crowds and remember to have your driving licence and passport with you if you want to hire their audio equipment. In France you are required to have these items with you at all times during your visit.

View of Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley from the gardens of Catherine de Medici

After your visit to the chateau and gardens take a walk to the left of the restaurant and look at their 'old village' setting - charming - and then on to their nursery gardens...

Nursery buildings at Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley in France

where you will find seasonal blooms ready to be  used in the chateau's award winning floral displays.

Tulips in thre nursery at Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley

Open every day
From January 1to February 3: 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
from February 4 to March 31: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
from April 1 to May 28: 9 am to 7 pm
from May 29 to June 30:  9 am to 7.30 pm
from July 1 to August 31: 9 am to 8.00 pm
from September 1 to
September 30: 9 am to 7.30 pm
from October 1 to 
November 1: 9 am to 6.30 pm
from November 6 to November 12: 9 am to 6.00 pm
from November 12 to December 31: 9.30 am to 5 pm

Prices
 

2017

Adults

 

Children  

Students  

 

Castle (with brochure)

 

13.00 €

10.00 €

10.00 €

 

Castle (audio video guided tour)

 

17.50 €

14.00 €

14.00 €

 

External links:

 

http://www.chenonceau.com/           Website of Chateau de Chenonceau.

 

 

Blogroll:

 

 

experienceloire.blogspot           Chenonceau at Christmas

 

Christmas tree in drawing room at chateau de Chenonceau

 

 

 

Back to Chateaux

 

 

Chateaux A to Z list

 

 

 

 

Back to top.

 

"Author: Jim Craig"