Friday, February 3, 2012


Like so many other castles, Chenonceau was built on the site of an earlier property - in fact two earlier properties stood here. A manor house that was burned to the ground in 1411 was followed by a fortified castle, but that too was destroyed to make way for the chateau we currently see, built between 1515 and 1521 by Thomas Bohier, overseen by his wife Katherine Briconnet.

Soon after completion the chateau was seized by King Francois I, because Bohier could not pay his debts. The king's successor Henry II presented the castle to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, who arranged significant renovations and enhancements to the gardens. Ten years later however, after the death of the king, his widow Catherine de Medici forced her to exchange the chateau for nearby Chateau Chaumont - a fine castle, but much less grand than Chenonceau. Under Catherine de Medici further extensive work was carried out on the chateau and gardens, including the Grand Gallery across the river.

The fortunes of the castle changed after the death of Catherine de Medici in 1589. Following occupancy by the widow of Henry III and the mistress of Henry IV the castle slowly became less occupied and less maintained. Bought by the Duke of Bourbon in 1720, he sold many of the contents of the castle, and then the castle itself.

My absolute favorite château in the whole of France because of its beauty and history. Having read the biographies of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers, this château is nicknamed the “Château des Dames” because King Henry II gave this castle to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, but when he died, his wife, the Queen Catherine de Medici threw out Diane and installed herself there. Everywhere you’ll see the symbols HDC, originally it was H and D entwined and after the King’s death Catherine added her initial C. A