Château de Chenonceau

Though ominous clouds still hovered, the sky was decidedly brighter when we arrived at Chateau de Chenonceau…

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Having visited the Chateau once before (years ago as part of a school trip) I was intrigued to see if it would be as I remembered it. I was so pleased to find it was even better.

Straddling the River Cher the Chateau de Chenonceau is the second most visited chateau in France (after Versailles, of course) and was originally built in the 1500s on the foundation of an old mill. Known as ‘The Ladies Chateau’ the building has been owned and inhabited by some of France’s most notable women including Catherine de’ Medici, Louise of Lorraine and Louise Dupin who saved the chateau from destruction during the French Revolution. And thank goodness she did!

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The entrance to the chateau is bordered by two truly incredible gardens. To the west is Catherine de Medici’s Garden which is a picture of refinement.

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The garden also offers a lovely view of the chateau over the river.

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Showing ALL of the excitement and joy for the brief, sunny interlude we were awarded^

Having peered down every path of the Garden we headed east to see the gardens of Catherine’s greatest rival and the woman who made the chateau what it is today – Diane de Poitiers.

Catherine loathed Diane (her husband, Henri II’s, longest-standing mistress) and was incredibly upset and angry when he gifted his paramour the chateau in 1547. Upon Henri’s death in 1559 Catherine wasted no time in serving Diane her eviction notice, forcing her to trade her beloved home for the Chateau Chaumont (which was not a bad deal, really, considering at this same time in England people were losing their heads for far less!)

It was Diane who commissioned the arched bridge that connects the chateau to the opposite bank and makes its architecture truly unique in the world and her love for Chenonceau is evident in her garden which remains almost exactly the same centuries later.

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Even with ominous storm clouds coming in it’s still incredibly beautiful.

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All roads lead to Chenonceau!^

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As tiny droplets of rain started to smatter the path we headed inside.

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We started in the chapel…

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And then went on to Diane de Poitiers’s bedroom…

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The library…

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The Gallery…

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The Hall…

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I liked this jazzy little chap. He had flare!^

We said hello to everyone’s favourite Sun King, Louis XIV in his Drawing Room…

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…and then headed out on the balcony to survey the grounds.

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Having seen and done it all, including mastering the Hedge Maze in less than three minutes, we grabbed a crepe for the road (when in France!) and sped along past gorgeous towns and flowing mustard fields towards our final destination – Mont Saint-Michel. (More on that this Saturday!)

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