Now we're getting into the fun stuff - castles. I love castles. Especially furnished-like-back-in-the-day castles. And heaven help me if the staff are in costume.
After our enjoyable yet soggy tour of Normandy, we headed into the Loire Valley for a good dose of sunshine and châteaux. We had a lovely time.
Not so lovely was Morning 1 of Day 1 when the 2 yr old found our holiday home's game stash. He upended 4 jigsaw puzzles of 1000 pieces each on the carpet. Is it okay to admit I wanted to throttle him?
Why you little...
After the jigsaw debacle we headed off to visit the elegant Château de Chenonceau.
Chenonceau is also known as the Château des Dames (Ladies' Castle) due to the women who helped shape its history:
- The castle's construction (starting 1515) was supervised by Katherine Briçonnet, the wife of the finance minister who bought the property. It was eventually taken over by King Francis I due to the family's unpaid debts.
- King Henry II gave the castle to his favourite mistress, Diane de Poitiers in 1547. She built the arch bridge to the opposite side of the river Cher.
- When Henry II died, his widow Catherine de Medici kicked Diane's arse out of there and moved in with her son, the young King Francis II. She built a gallery over the bridge and held huge parties there.
- When King Henri III (Francis' brother) died, his widow Louise of Lorraine moved in and mourned there until her death in 1601.
- Louise Dupin, wife of the wealthy squire who bought the castle, breathed new life into the château and saved it from destruction during the French Revolution.
- Marguerite Pelouze, wife of a squillionaire chemist, restored the castle in 1865 to that of the times of Diane de Poitiers.
- A wealthy chocolate magnate bought the castle in 1913. He paid to convert the castle to a hospital during WWI and his daughter, Simone Menier, served as matron. Simone was also rumoured to be active in the French Resistance during WWII (the castle was in occupied territory but the opposite bank was not - hence the bridge became a great asset to the Resistance).
The main entrance
The Guards' Tower
Cheeky swallows building nests on the Guards' Tower
Chenonceau certainly feels like it's had a woman's touch - it's more homely and relaxed than a castle should be.
This is helped by the staff (sadly not in costume) lighting the fire in each room:
And also ensuring every room has an arrangement of fresh flowers from the many gardens that are on the grounds:
It still has all the adornments you'd expect of a royal residence:
Work of art wallpaper
One of the ceilings. What's with the sweating ice cream cones with wings?
Louis XIV in the most over-the-top frame I've ever seen
King Francis I's drawing room. Hmm. No comment.
A reminder of the gallery's use in WWI:
2254 injured were cared for here during the War 1914-1918
The grounds are gorgeous and the kids really enjoyed all the moats:
Not to mention the gardens, the small farm, playground and hedge maze.
A beautiful castle with an interesting history - needless to say we recommend a visit to Chenonceau.
Especially on a sunny day.
Have a great week, everyone!