The Loire Valley is renown for many things but standing head and shoulders above all else are its beautiful chateaus. Chateau Chenonceau would have to be one of the most romantic chateaus located in the Loire, spanning the river Cher, Chenonceau was for almost 100 years the centre of courtly life with numerous parties attracting nobility from not only all over France but all over Europe.
Although having been begun in 1411 the Chateau gained it present form from the middle of the 16 century when the King of France, Henri II, gave the Chateau to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. With a residence having been already built Diane built a bridge from the chateau spaning the river, she also laid out one of the most impressive renaissance gardens the region had seen. Diane’s influence over her lover, the King, upset many, most notably the Kings wife Catherine de Medici. Upon the Kings death Catherine confiscated the Chateau and built two stories on the bridge, giving the chateau it’s present shape. She also laid a second garden to rival her husband’s lover’s and used the Chateau regularly as her favourite residence where she raised her son, the future Francois II, and his child bride Mary Queen of Scots.
Catherine died in 1589 and the Chateau passed to her daughter-in-law, Louise of Lorraine. Unfortunately Louise’s husband, Henri III, passed away and the Chateau went from being a scene of parties & galas to one of meditation & solitude and eventually disuse. For more than 130 the Chateau fell into disrepair and eventually became the property of Madam Dupin. Dupin, loved knowledge and entertained people such as Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau, who was tutor to her son. Dupin was also loved by the local villagers so when the revolution swept through the Chateau was escaped its ravages and remains as it was.
Today the Chateau is owned by the Menier family, chocolate manufactures from Orleans who open their home for people to admire. It’s rich history dominated by women gives the chateau the title of;
Chenonceau: The Ladies Château