Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chenonceau--The Feminine Chateau

Back to the Loire Valley we go today, to our third, and in my opinion, the most beautiful chateau of the bunch. Chateau de Chenonceau was built for queens. It majestically straddles the River Cher and was a favorite of Henry II's beloved mistress, Diane de Poitiers. She lived there until he died and his wife, Catherine de Medicis kicked her out. There's a historical novel in there, for sure. The fireplace and coffered ceiling in Diane's bedroom bear the entwined initials of her lover and his wife, H for Henry and C for Catherine. When combined, however, these two letters form a perfect D, for Diane. Very clever, that one.

Chenonceau is beautifully maintained and filled with feminine touches like fresh flowers in every room. There are bedchambers in the style of each of the queens and mistresses who lived there. One for Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, one for Catherine de Medicis, queen, another for Gabrielle d'Estrees, mistress of Henry IV and one for the mournful Queen Louise who walked its halls shedding silver tears after the assassination of her husband, Henry III.

{Catherine de Medicis bed chamber, notice the double C's}

{Chenonceau, Louise de Lorraines' room, silver tears}
I had to show you this even though it is a bit dark. This was in Louise's bed chamber. The walls and bedding are black and the spermatozoa are, in fact, tears.

The kitchens on the lower floor were my favorite part of the chateau. Large ovens, servants' dining hall and all the tools of the cook's trade, like a butchering station, were still there.

{Chenonceau, kitchens}

{Chenonceau, servants dining hall}
 I loved the cabbage arrangement. So pretty. Can you spot the waffle irons on the wall?

{Chenonceau, butcher block}
Chickens and steak didn't come in plastic wrapped parts back then.

The small, yet elegant chapel was bombed during the Second World War and the stained glass was shattered. Thankfully, it was restored to its former beauty after the war.

The long gallery that runs across the river was said to be an escape route for the French Resistance and Jews during that time as well.  The entrance side of the hall led from Nazi occupied France and the other to the so called Free Zone of Vichy France.

{Chenonceau, gallery over the Cher}
In the First World War, it was used as a hospital for injured soldiers.This meant something to Ma Fille who is enthralled with Downton Abbey and its WW1 season at the moment.

Some of the flowers that P-Daddy could not stop snapping and focusing in on.

This kind of floor always makes me want to take my shoe off so I can feel it. They're just so shiny! Of course I didn't. That would have been embarrassing. But you know what I mean, don't you?

Another successful day of chateau ogling for the Larsons. Up next, Cheverny and Beauregard.


  1. Your photos are stunning! I remember the first time I visited the Loire Valley and saw Chenonceau - breathtakingly beautiful and a real fairy tale castle. By far the best one!

  2. Gorgeous! It's such an elegant castle.
    I'm so jealous of your family photo - it's a nightmare trying to get ours all together. Maybe when they're a little older...

  3. Je suis d'accord avec toi, Aidan. Chenonceau was always my favorite Loire Valley castle. I enjoyed visiting back with you and the family today. Merci beaucoup! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  4. I have always loved this chateau due to it's gorgeous arcade but I never knew it's significance during WWII! That is fascinating. And the copper pots in the kitchen ::faints:: Another beautiful place!

  5. Chenonceau was definitely my favorite chateau from our trip down the Loire valley. Thanks for the pictures, brings back some great memories. I look forward to going back there some day.


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