Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Château de Chenonceau.

This post outlines some of our adventures on our Spring Trip in April/May 2012.

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.

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

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?

4000 mixed up pieces of jigsaw puzzle.
Why you little...

One had a green coloured backing but the other three were very similar shades of blue. It took a long, long time to sort them out.

After the jigsaw debacle we headed off to visit the elegant Château de Chenonceau.

The moats around the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

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).
I hope you found that as interesting as I did. I love those crazy royals and all the wild stuff they got up to.

Château de Chenonceau main entrance
The main entrance

Guards' Tower at Château de Chenonceau, France.
The Guards' Tower

Swallows' nests on the Guards' Tower at Château de Chenonceau
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:

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

And also ensuring every room has an arrangement of fresh flowers from the many gardens that are on the grounds:

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

It still has all the adornments you'd expect of a royal residence:

Ornate wallpaper in gold floral designs
Work of art wallpaper

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.
One of the ceilings. What's with the sweating ice cream cones with wings?

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.
Louis XIV in the most over-the-top frame I've ever seen

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.
Vaulted ceilings

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.
King Francis I's drawing room. Hmm. No comment.

A reminder of the gallery's use in WWI:

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.
2254 injured were cared for here during the War 1914-1918

The grounds are gorgeous and the kids really enjoyed all the moats:

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

Not to mention the gardens, the small farm, playground and hedge maze.

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

A beautiful castle with an interesting history - needless to say we recommend a visit to Chenonceau.

Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France.

Especially on a sunny day.

Have a great week, everyone!

26 comments:

  1. Wait one moment while I pick my jaw up off the ground. What a gorgeous place. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Oh, wow Kirsty. It's so gorgeous. I love how pure white the stone is. Imagine keeping it that way! I also enjoy all the royal histories and Paul and I wish for an English version of French history to teach us our stuff like we learned from the BBC. There really are an awful lot of shows about the Tudors.
    I'd love to visit this. Maybe when we go to Normandy I can follow in your footsteps.
    You'd love Ireland and its recreation of Irish homes through the years and the medieval feasts at Bunratty.
    aidan xo

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  3. Glad to see I'm not the only one with a two year old wreaking havoc with my sightseeing plans! We visited when India was a baby but I missed the flying ice creams. Must go back!

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  4. My favorite chateaux of them all - Chenonceau is perfectly beautiful and so worth a visit!! Did you get to Chambord? or Azay-le-Rideau? To more beautiful chateaux!! Great snaps - thx!!

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  5. Love all the castley goodness there - the 4,000 piece pick up game, not so much (there's probably still some family trying to work out why their puzzle of flowers has a bird in it or something ;o) )

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  6. Love Chenonceau! As I recall, there is a delightful black bedroom above the bridge somewhere. Touring the Loire Valley is amazing, I'm glad you were went and reminded me of how much I want to go back. I went with my college class, we stayed in a small chateau, and got into tons of trouble at night. ;)

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  7. Wow, I never came across this one before, it's a real stunner, beautifully preserved. Thanks for the tour. You did well to fit it in, after all that jigsaw puzzle sorting!

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  8. I love Castles too so thank you so much for the arm chair tour. Hopefully one day, I can visit for myself. Pinning it to my wish list.
    Cath @ Bits 'n Bobs

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  9. Thanks for the tour. I was there myself in 1985. I as recovering from a nasty 17 year old's hangover but still, it's exactly as I remember it. I think I may even have some photos around here taken with my Kodak Disc camera. Seriously, did you see or even get to photograph the giant stuffed hare? I'm not kidding. That's what I remember from this place. I'd be in my glory if you had a photo.
    m.

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  10. Oh YHMAB... I need a lie down after that fabulous journey; came down with the vapours after seeing those nudies and old Lew in his satin panties. But then I had a cack over the cones and felt better. Keep travelling please!

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  11. Once again it is so fun to see these photos, your view of somewhere we have been. Weren't the flower arrangements beautiful?

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  12. Memories of 1980 for me! The most amazing French castle I ever saw! And seeing it with your fresh eyes and humorous comments have made it even better!

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  13. I remember it well, we were there in 1995 or 6. Our first holiday without the kids.
    I can also remember a story of A child rummaging around in the attic, where all the jigsaw puzzles were stored .... (similar story, more puzzles).
    In Dutch there is the expression of "sticking your children behind the wall paper" so it's not just you!
    I didn't know as much of it's history and it's great to read about it.
    Which castle will be next? The one with the beautiful gardens: Villandry?
    Looking forward to the next post.

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  14. I love Chenonceau! I rebelled and walked on the grass there much to the horror of my French companions. I think the guard's tower is enchanting - when I first saw it I thought it was just as I imagined Rapunzel's tower to be.

    Thanks for all the great photos!

    PS. I can't believe you sorted out all those jigsaw pieces! That was an heroic effort.

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  15. What a lovely place! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  16. It does look a lot prettier than the average castle. Coincidence? I don't think so.
    And your two year old and the puzzles pieces!!! Oh my! I would have lost it!

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  17. Sorry, it must have been a nightmare at the time, but you did make me laugh about the jigsaw puzzles. Chenonceau's always been my favourite chateau - it's just so damn pretty! I think the sweating ice cream cones might be cornucopia.

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  18. Wow, beautiful! I really enjoyed your blog (first visit).

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  19. What an incredible castle! I'd love to see it for myself. I wonder if that painting in the King's drawing room is a take on the (Greek)mythological Three Graces - representing charm, beauty and creativity...could be?

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    1. Well done, that's exactly what it is based on! The ladies are three sisters who were the favourites of Louis XV. And of course, by favourites, they mean mistresses. Dirty old king.

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  20. Hi! I just found your blot through the Sew Many Ways Friday link-up. The picture of the castle definitely caught my eye. I love castles, I love old architecture. These pictures are beautiful. It's amazing to me the amount of small/intricate detail they put into buildings long ago. Love the history behind it as well!

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    1. Another castle lover - welcome! I also adore all those small details that no one would think to do (or agree to pay for) today. I have three more castle visits to come, so come back soon!

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  21. Makes me want to move to France immediately :)

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  22. Oh the puzzles! I can just imagine it. And what a beautiful castle!
    I find the picture of the naked ladies very cool because it reminds me of how beauty standards change, which means they're really quite arbitrary, aren't they! You luck out if you've got what's in style the century when you're alive...

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  23. Oh the puzzles! I can just imagine it. And what a beautiful castle!
    I find the picture of the naked ladies very cool because it reminds me of how beauty standards change, which means they're really quite arbitrary, aren't they! You luck out if you've got what's in style the century when you're alive...

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