May 27, 2010

Château de Chenonceau - May 25

One of our main objectives in choosing this area of France for our holidays was to visit the châteaux along the Loire.  Chenonceau is a significant one, stretching across the river Cher with a gallery built over a series of arches, its elegant beauty reflected in the languid waters.
The moat with a variety of fish.

A romantic pleasure palace, Chenonceau was created from the Renaissance onwards by a series of aristocratic women. 
Karl commented that the "romantic pleasure palace" was probably inspiration for Hugh Heffner's Mansion.

L'Orangerie and the Tea Room.
The magnificent avenue bordered by plane trees leading to the serene vision that Flaubert praised as "floating on air and water."

Close-up of the Château roof.

The Marques tower, the only remaining part of the original fortified castle that was demolished in the 16th century in order to build the Château de Chenonceau by Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briçonnet.

Diane de Poitiers' garden to the left of the Château.  Over 100 types of stemmed hibiscus flower here in summer.

Catherine de' Medici's garden to the right of the Château.  A more intimate garden offering the perfect image of refinement.  Bordered by the River Cher, the paths allow for a magnificent view over the west facade of the Château.  Lavish court receptions and transvestite balls were held under Catherine's auspices.

Diane de Poitiers' bedroom.
Diane de Poitiers was a beautiful and intelligent woman but hard and determined in character.  She became the mistress of the future Henri II of France, at the time already married to Catherine de' Medici.  It was a legendary tryst that increased in intensity with time.  But at the death of the king in 1559, the long-humiliated Catherine banished Diane from court.
Catherine de' Medici's bedroom.
Catherine de' Medici's bedroom is fitted with beautiful sculpted 16th-century furniture and is decorated with a set of Flanders tapestries which trace the life of Samson.  These tapestries are remarkable for their borders full of animals symbolizing proverbs and fables.  On the right of the bed is "The Education of Love" by Correggio, painted on wood.

Louise of Lorraine's bedroom. 
After the assassination of her husband King Henri III, Louise of Lorraine retired to Chenonceau to meditate and pray.  She painted the ceiling of her bedchamber black and white (the colours of royal mourning) and remained in mourning for 14 years.  Always dressed in white, she was given the name "la Reine Blanche", the White Queen.
Louis XIV's drawing room.
In memory of the visit he made to the Château in 1650, Louis XIV, many years later, offered his uncle the Duke of Vendôme his portrait by Rigaud in an extraordinary frame by Lepautre, composed simply of four enormous pieces of wood.
On the Renaissance fireplace, the Salamander and the Stoat bring back the memory of François I and Queen Claude of France.

From the bedrooms we descended to the kitchens and preparation areas which are located in the two enormous bases forming the first two piers built in the bed of the River Cher.  When crossing from one pier to the other, we can see a platform where boats carrying produce would moor (according to legend it is called "Diane's Bath") to unload their supplies.

The baking oven
A substantial bread slicer!
Staff dining hall.
Above the dining table.
A fancy muffin pan or mould pan.
Copper pots and pans.
Huge stove with warming sections.
Firepit with 3 spits connected to a pulley system - to prepare a feast!
Wild boar would have been a choice meat of the day.
Hooks to hang the game and the cleavers of various sizes for the butchers.

Karl at the door of the farm house, part of a superb group of 16th-century buildings opening onto the vegetable garden with the floral workshop at its centre.

The daily flower arrangements composed for each room in the Château, in harmony with the seasons and events, is an integral part of Chenonceau's charm.
Karl, taking time to smell the roses.

Located in a clearing within the 70-hectare grounds, the Italian maze, as desired by Catherine de' Medici, is planted with 2000 yews covering more than one hectare.
It opens towards the east to discover the monumental Caryatides by Jean Goujon.

~ AM

1 comment:

  1. This is a most beautiful tour. Thank-you for the gorgeous pictures! M