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Charming Chateau Chenonceau

sunny 26 °C

If Chambord is the grandest chateau in the Loire Valley then Chateau de Chenonceau, which spans the River Cher, must surely be the prettiest...


All of France was once ruled from this Chateau by an Italian noblewoman, Catherine de Medici, following the death of her husband King Henri II of France, (1515 - 1559). Henri was mortally wounded in a jousting tournament with the captain of his Scots guards and his 15 year old son was crowned Francis II. But not for long. He soon died and Catherine became Queen Regent on behalf of her 10 year old son King Charles IX. Then he died and with her help her third son became King Henry III. Catherine was still pulling her son's strings when in 1572 thousands of protestant Huguenots were slaughtered in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and she got the blame for it. Now let's take a break and have a look at the original front door of the Chateau dated 1519...


Phew – a good pair of walking shoes, stamina and a clear head for history are needed here. This is our third chateau in three days and we barely mentioned the great Royal Chateau of Blois where Catherine de Medici died at the age of 69, just a few months before her third son died.This chateau still has towers and walls that were part of an ancient castle that was already 400 years old when Francis I turned it into one of his many palaces in the early 1500s...


Now, if you are not reeling from all this historical stuff, let's get back to Chenonceau where, while Catherine de Medici was planning major extensions and the beautiful gardens, her husband, Henri II, was more interested in pursuits of a carnal kind with his mistress Diane de Poitiers. She even had her own bedroom on site...


Henri left the chateau to Diane on his deathbed but Catherine soon shoved her out and redecorated for when her daughters and daughters-in-law visited. All five were queens and this was their bedroom...


Beneath the chateau are extensive kitchens with a fascinating array of pots and pans...


The crowning glory of Chenonceau is the long gallery that spans the river...


This great room, and the two floors above it, was built by Catherine as a grand ballroom to entertain visiting royalty and noblemen. During the First World War the chateau was turned into a hospital by the owners and the the galleries became wards for hundreds of wounded soldiers. In 1914 the chateau's operating room was equipped with one of the first X-ray machines in the world. Catherine de Medici was also interested in medicine in the 1500s and she had an extensive apothecary. This is one of the medicine cabinets...


The walls of the Chateau de Chenonceau exude history. While decisions made here changed the course of history in the middle ages, the chateau had a role during the Second World War when it straddled the demarcation line between Nazi occupied France and Vichy France and was used to smuggle people across the river to potential freedom. If only the walls of these corridors could talk – what stories they would tell...



Posted by Hawkson 11:01 Archived in France

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Thanks for the history. I don't know if my history education ever covered this or not. My memory is really sketchy until my last year in England.

by Janet

and of course the pictures are so beautiful.

by Janet

So regal this one. A beautiful area to travel through. Love the history.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Very interesting. It looks like you are having fabulous weather.

We finally have Travellerspoint back.

by Keith

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