Chateau de Chenonceau
Visit Chateau de Chenonceau (Loire Valley, France)
Chateau de Chenonceau, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley of France, sits in a pretty setting literally on the Cher River itself, surrounded by gardens on the adjacent terraces and river banks.
The castle is a mix of architectural styles, built as it was at the end of the gothic period and the start of the renaissance, which together create a very fine castle and among the most visited monuments in France. The round Marques tower, slightly separate from the main castle body and now acting as entrance to the main castle, is part of the earlier castle that stood here (although the tower was also much renovated in the 16th century).
Chateau Chenonceau history
A brief knowledge of the history of Chenonceau castle adds a great deal to the pleasure of a visit!
Previous buildings on the same site included a manor house, a mill and a fortified castle, with these being cleared away by Thomas Bohier to create space for the current Chenonceau castle in the early 16th century. The castle soon passed to King Francois I when Bohier's son was unable to pay his debts, then in turn to King Henry II who gave the castle to Diane of Poitiers.
It was Diane who added the romantic arched bridge, now a centerpiece of the castle, and crossing to the far bank of the Cher river. She also added the gardens that now surround the castle - these are in the traditional French style with lots of small meticulously shaped shrubs. The bridge and gardens give a lovely backdrop to Chenonceau chateau.
Unfortunately Diane de Poitiers made the castle so desirable that when King Henry died his widow, Catherine de Medici, wanted it for herself and successfully forced Diane to live in Chaumont castle instead so she could live at Chenonceau.
Catherine de Medici further enhanced the castle, in particular adding the gallery along the bridge that Diane had built, and further enhancing the gardens.
After the death of Catherine de Medici (1589) Chenonceau castle changed hands several times over the following 150 years. it was sometimes unoccupied, and often lived in, but was never to regain its 16th century glory as the centre of the royal court. The slow decline included its ownership by various royal mistresses and landowners, during which time many of the fine ornaments were sold.
During the 18th century the castle had a resurgence in popularity when, under the ownership of the Dupin family, it became a centre for arts and intellectuals with such notable figures as Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Buffon regularly attending gatherings at the castle. More importantly Madame Dupin prevented the castle from being destroyed during the French revolution by emphasising the role of the bridge as a crucial local transport link across the river.
More recently and into the 20th century the castle again changed hands on more than one occasion, culminating in its purchase by the Menier family in 1913 - the family still own Chenonceau at the present time. The castle also saw action during the 20th century, both during the First World War when it was used as a hospital, and in the Second World War when Chenonceau was a link (and escape route) between the Nazi occupied territory north of the Cher and the vichy zone to the south.
In the latter half of the 20th century the chateau was renovated and subsequently opened to the public.
Visiting Chateau Chenonceau
Both the castle and the extensive surrounding gardens are open to visitors to Chenonceau castle, including the gardens of both Catherine de medici and Diane de Poitiers, along with more recent additions such as a maze of yew.
The interior of the castle contains many highlights, with impressive tapestries and furnishings, fireplaces, ornamentation and decorative highlights. You will see many fine rooms such as the chapel, the main 'salon', the royal chambers, the library etc.
These are all brought to life by the knowledge that you are walking in the footsteps of Catherine de Medici and the many other important historical characters who have lived their lives in the castle before you, making a visit highly recommended when touring the castles of the Loire Valley.
See more Loire Valley castles.
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Château de Chenonceau, Indre-et-Loire, Loire Valley || GPS: latitude 47.328, longitude 1.0671
Map of Chateau de Chenonceau & places nearby
Highlights close by
Chateau d'Amboise 11km
See lots more places to visit nearby and a more detailed map at places near Chateau de Chenonceau.
See Loire Valley and Indre-et-Loire (the region and department for Chateau de Chenonceau) for more travel ideas...
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Chateau de Chenonceau, France
- Parc et jardins du château de Chenonceau - remarkable garden
- Amboise - secteur sauvegarde (12km)
- Aquarium du Val-de-Loire - aquarium (13km)
- Domaine régional de Chaumont-sur-Loire - remarkable garden (19km)
- Parc et jardins du château de Valmer - remarkable garden (20km)
- Montresor - most beautiful village (22km)
- Réserve de Beaumarchais - zoo or wildlife park (23km)
- ZooParc de Beauval - zoo or wildlife park (23km)
- Fougeres-sur-Bievre Chateau - national monument (25km)
- Loches - recommended detour (25km)
The French version of this page is at Chateau de Chenonceau (Francais)