I’ve saved the best for last! Of all the châteaux that we visited in the Loire Valley, the Château de Chenonceau is easily my favorite. How much do I love it? Let me count the ways…
Reason #1: Just look at its location!
Reason #2: Its history
Chenonceau has a fascinating story that could easily be the script of a soap opera. In 1533, Henry II (the future King of France) married Catherine de Medicis when they were both 14 years old. The following year (at 15 years old[!!], mind you), he became romantically involved with the 35 year old widow, Diane de Poitiers. Although 20 years Henry’s senior, she was beautiful, confident and intelligent. She influenced Henry personally and politically throughout his life, leaving Catherine de Medicis excluded from any political influence The Château de Chenonceau was one of the many gifts that Henry gave his chief mistress. Diane de Poitiers loved this Château, renovating it by building the arched bridge the connected the château to the opposite bank of the river and planting flower and vegetable gardens.
Catherine de Medicis got the last laugh, though. King Henry II died in 1559 and Catherine de Medicis forced Diane de Poitiers to give up Château de Chenonceau to her in exchange for the Château de Chaumont. She then proceeded to spend a fortune to add gardens and a gallery on top of the arched bridge that Diane de Poitiers had built.
Reason #3: The feminine touch
Besides the story of the love triangle of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medicis, there are 3 other women the history of this château that have exerted their influence – for example, in 1733, Louise Dupin saved the château from being destroyed by French revolutionists. As a result, you can see a feminine influence throughout, not just in the gardens, but in the beautiful flower arrangements that give life to each room of this château.
Although the château and the two surrounding gardens are the best part of these grounds, there is plenty to explore beyond that. While walking towards the exit, we came upon these beautiful tulip fields…
The Château de Chenonceau is easily a château that I could see myself visiting again, maybe even in another season. The combination of beauty and history make it a fascinating trip.
Until next time,