Chenonceau is located in the central part of France, the Loire Valley, near the city of Tours. The birthplace of the castle is a region that has long been famous for some of the best wines, delicious goat cheese, royal history and the purest French. Fortunately or unfortunately, none of the bloody crimes skillfully hidden by the thick walls of royal residences are connected with Chenonceau. This is the most romantic castle, throughout its history, owned by women, among whom were persons of royal blood.
History of Chenonceau Castle
The history of Chenonceau dates back to the 13th century, when the estate, which included a fortress and a mill, belonged to the de Mark family from Auvergne. Financial difficulties forced the next heirs to sell the land, and the territory, together with all the buildings, became the property of Thomas Boye, who was in charge of finance, in the 16th century. So the castle was born, built in the Renaissance style. Since Boyer was on the road all the time, Chenonceau was managed by his wife, the first woman in a series of numerous owners of the “ladies’ castle”. The next was none other than the infamous Diane de Poitiers, the favorite of King Henry II, who had a huge influence on him. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of France.
Many legends of a very different nature are associated with the name of Diana de Poitiers, ranging from the fact that she was both the beloved of both the king-father, Francis I, and his son, Henry II, ending with the fact that Diana sold her soul to the devil for eternal youth and drinks blood. In fact, it is reliably known that, to preserve her beauty, she took daily ice baths in the morning and rode a lot on a horse, so that later she would plunge into a long sleep until noon.
After the death of Henry, his lawful wife, Queen Catherine de Medici, expelled de Poitiers from the castle and settled in it herself, leaving behind a beautiful garden and a richly decorated interior. From then until the 17th century, the castle belonged to royalty. In the 18th century, there was a sharp change of ownership – the castle was acquired by a famous banker, and his wife opened a kind of art salon in Chenonceau. This marvel of Renaissance architecture is now private property.
Up to 130,000 flowers are planted annually in the garden of Diane de Poitiers and in the garden of Catherine de Medici.
How to get to Chenonceau
TGV trains leave Paris for Chenonceau from Gare Montparnasse. However, the way to the castle is not so easy: you need to make one transfer. To do this, first at the Montparnasse train station or via the Internet, you should buy a ticket to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, located four kilometers from Tours. Travel time is about an hour. There are first and second grade. The fare for the second class is 40-50 EUR. Trains run every hour and a half. After arriving in the suburbs of Tours, you need to transfer to the TER train (local train) going to Chenonceaux. Travel time is no more than 25 minutes. Ticket price – 8-13 EUR. Unlike high-speed TGV, tickets are without seats, so you can choose any.
The most important thing is not to get into a break between the train and the train. Otherwise, you will have to wait in an uninteresting suburb for up to three hours. If, nevertheless, an unfortunate delay has occurred, then do not be afraid. Firstly, a 5-minute train ride is the ancient town of Tours. Secondly, there are taxis directly from the station to the castle. Chenonceau station is very small and is located very close, in front of the linden alley leading to the entrance gate. The return trip, due to interruptions in traffic, should be thought out in advance, immediately after arrival, having familiarized yourself with the schedule at the station.
The castle is located 214 km from Paris and 34 km from Tours. From Paris to Chenonceau, it is most convenient to get on the A10 motorway, turning towards Blois or Amboise. Travel time is two hours.
Cuisine and restaurants
The Orangerie restaurant is located behind the Green Garden (Jardin Vert), created by Bernard Palissy. The restaurant is open from 6 March to 21 November. There are several types of menu, in particular, vegetarian, children’s. Fish dishes – from 9 to 18 EUR, meat dishes will cost 18-25 EUR. Desserts from 9-10 EUR. In addition to the restaurant, there is also a cafe, which is open all year round from 15:00 to 17:00.
For those who do not want to spend money, a snack bar is open next to the ticket offices. Opening hours are from March to mid-November.
Shopping and stores
There is a souvenir shop on the territory of the castle, where you can find and buy a variety of pleasant little things: postcards, posters, key chains, etc. The book department will offer visitors both books about the castle itself, its history, gardens, and literature about the Loire Valley in general. However, there is one cardinal difference between this souvenir shop and other “brothers”. Here you can buy jewelry, the creation of which the authors were inspired by the era, costumes, jewelry of the famous mistresses of the castle. For example, a diamond brooch, exactly copying the model of the late 16th century.
Entertainment and attractions
The castle is an example of French Renaissance architecture. You should pay attention to the Hall of the Guards with tapestries of the 16th century, the rooms of Catherine de Medici, Diane de Poitiers and Gabrielle d’Estre, the Front Room and the Room of the Five Queens. The gallery with paintings by Rubens, Primaticcio, Van Loo, Mignard and Nattier will delight art lovers.
The garden of Catherine de Medici is located to the east of the square courtyard and is made in the Italian style. This is the best view of the castle building.
The garden of Diane de Poitiers is located opposite the garden of the queen and is decorated with antique statues. Every year, in spring and summer, at least 60 thousand varieties of plants are planted in the ground.
The labyrinth is a part of the park, reconstructed in accordance with the plan of Catherine de Medici and located on the territory adjacent to the palace. The name comes from the shape that the trimmed shrubs form.
The farm of the 16th century was restored not so long ago, but the recreated environment allows each visitor to feel like a resident of royal France.
The room of the “five queens” in the castle of Chenonceau is named so in memory of two daughters (including Queen Margot) and three daughters-in-law (including Mary Stuart) of Catherine de Medici.
The Green Garden and the Garden of Vegetables complement the splendor of the garden and park, bringing their own notes.
The wax museum will allow its visitors to take a tour of the past, covering the period from the Renaissance to the First World War (1518-1918). Here you can see all the women who made a significant contribution to the construction of the castle: Diana de Poitiers, Catherine de Medici, Mary Stuart and many others.
A walk at night in the Chenonceau park is one of the attractions offered to tourists. To the music of Correli, you can enjoy a romantic walk through the specially illuminated gardens of Diana and Catherine and admire the illumination throughout the entire castle. Ticket price – 5 EUR, children seven years and younger – free of charge.
Address: 37150 Chenonceaux.
Opening hours: December 21 – January 6 9:30 – 17:30, January 7 – February 8 and November 12 – December 20 9:30 – 16:30, February 9 – April 5 9:00 – 17:00, April 6 – May 29 and September 30 – November 11 9:00 – 18:00, May 30 – July 5 and August 19 – September 29 9:00 – 19:00, July 6 – August 18 9:00 – 19:30.
Ticket offices close half an hour before closing. There are audio and video guides in Russian.
Entrance: 14.50 EUR, children (from 7 to 18 years old): 11.50 EUR, children under 7 years old: free of charge.
Special booklets in Russian, issued at the entrance, are a mini guide to the castle. The booklet fee is already included in the ticket price. The booklet cannot be purchased separately.