The magnificent Château de Chenonceau is characterised by the lives of the historic and famous women who occupied, added to, landscaped and embellished it, ensuring its place in the rich tapestry of French history.
A jewel in its own right, the castle was gifted by King Henry II of France to Diane de Poitiers, a clever and gifted courtier who had favour with the King. It was her passion for the castle that inspired her to develop the elegant arched bridge over the River Cher that connects the house with the opposite bank. Sprawling gardens were laid out supported by flood preventing retaining walls, adding to the elegance of the setting.
When Henry died, his wife Catherine de’ Medici, who was fiercely jealous of Diane, forcible removed her from the castle and claimed it for herself. Catherine added the grand and magnificent two storey gallery that extends across the entire bridge. The 60 metre long gallery is noted for its stunning chalk and slate tiled floor.
Catherine also extended the magnificent gardens used for parties and the first French fireworks display.
The bedchambers of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici display an amazing array of Flemish tapestries, furniture and masterpieces of some of the better known European painters.
This is truly an exceptional castle to visit not simply because of its architectural beauty, location and stunning gardens, but rather because of the rich dreams and secrets entwined in the succession of women who built and enhanced it.