The Loire Valley is famous for its magnificent royal castles. Luxurious, splendid and silk-stocking, they permanently attract attention. Among them is famous Château de Chenonceau: one of the most beautiful castles in France. It is also called the Ladies’ Castle or the Château of Five Queen.


Chenonceau

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Back in the 13th century, the Marques family owned the vast lands in the Loire valley. There was also an old fortress, surrounded by water moats and connected with the bank of the river Cher by a drawbridge. At the beginning of the 16th century the family had to sell not only land but also a fortress. The property was bought by Thomas Bohier, the Chamberlain to King Charles VIII of France.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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After a while, Thomas went to war, and his wife, Katherine Briçonnet, started to build a new castle. Only one tower remained from the old fortress, the rest was demolished. Then this magnificent Château de Chenonceau was erected. It has a rectangular shape with small turrets in the corners. In 1521 the construction was completed. A few years later the owner of the estate died, and after a while his wife passed away as well. The land and the castle were inherited by their son Antoine. But King Francis I really liked this palace, and he, allegedly for the unpaid debts of Antoine’s father, took it away.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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It was the twist of destiny that the castle was ruled by women. After the death of Francis I, his son Henry II became king. He offered the Château to his mistress Diane de Poitiers.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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Upon becoming the owner of the Château, Diana held the inventory of possessions an property, controlled all the accounts and finances. In 1556 a stone bridge was built across the river Cher. She also created a magnificent park and a garden near the castle, where unusual for that time artichokes and melons grew.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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After King Henry II died in 1559, his widow Catherine de’Medici made Chenonceau her own residence. Splendid parties in honor of Catherine’s sons were arranged here. Her rival Diane de Poitiers was forced to exchange the property for the Château Chaumont.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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Catherine de’Medici not only arranged the celebrations in the Château. A two-level gallery on the stone bridge was built by her order. A new garden with lemons and oranges was planted as well. A library, magnificent fountains and grottoes were built as well. In fact, Catherine developed the idea established by Diane de Poitiers. She organized the silk manufacturing, and the income from the estate has increased significantly.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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After Catherine de’Medici passed away in 1589, the Château was inherited by Henry III’s wife Louise of Lorraine, whose nickname was “the White Queen”. After Henry III was killed, she equipped one of the castle’s rooms as a crypt and tightened it with a black fabric. Until the last days of her life she lived in this room wearing white mourning clothes.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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The last of the kings who lived in Chenonceau was Louis XIV in 1650. From this moment, certain desolation of the castle began. It was interrupted when one of its wings was converted into a Capuchin monastery.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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In 1733 the castle was bought by Claude Dupin. His wife, Louise Dupin, saved Chenonceau from destruction. She bought new furniture and made the rooms more comfortable. A big fan of art and literature, Louise arranged a literary salon and a small theater in the castle. Among her guests were Montesquieu, Voltaire and Fontenelle. And Jean Jacques Rousseau was the secretary of Madame Dupin and the tutor of her daughter. In 1799, Madame Dupin died at the age of 93 and was buried in the park.

Marguerite Pelouze bought the Château in 1864. Renovation of it becomes a matter of her life. Thanks to her the castle acquired the condition in which Thomas Bohier left it.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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In 1888 the Château was confiscated for unpaid debts. Over time, he was bought by Henri Menier, a wealthy industrialist, whose family still owns Chenonceau today.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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Now the castle is completely restored and welcomes visitors. In the service rooms, where the stables used to be, the Wax Museum “Gallery of Ladies” is located. There you can see Madame Bohier, Diane de Poitiers and King Henry II, Louise Dupin accompanied by Rousseau and Voltaire.

Chenonceau

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Chenonceau

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Here you can take a boat trip, see the magnificent garden, a 16th century farm and a flower shop, where stunning bouquets to decorate the castle are made.

Château de Chenonceau on the map: