Chenonceau, The Ladies Chateau, Loire Valley #TuesdayTravels

Chenonceau, the “Ladies Chateau,” seems like a good choice for today’s #TuesdayTravels since it falls on Valentine’s Day. This beautiful, relatively small chateau sits on the right bank of the River Cher. In French cher means dear, but it also means expensive, and royal ladies could be very expensive indeed.

Chenonceau front

Front of Chateau Chenonceau

This front view shows what Chenonceau looked like in the mid-16th century when King Henry II gifted it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Diane added an arched bridge over the river. After Henri’s death, his widow, Catherine de Medici, took the chateau back from Diane and built the long gallery atop the bridge, resulting in this view that I call my money shot.

bridge & gallery

Chateau Chenonceau with bridge & gallery reflected in River Cher

I could hardly blame Catherine. I’d want this place, too. We had an entire morning to explore, starting with a tour of the chateau. Here are some of my photos. We started on the ground floor, including the chapel. I thought it was interesting to see how the floor decorations had been worn off except along the walls.

It was fun to visit the kitchen down a floor. That’s where my ancestors would have worked, I’m sure. The kitchen level is closer to the river, making it easy for them to receive provisions from boats below.

Upstairs, we saw the bedrooms, including some cool paintings, one of Chenonceau itself. The draperies on the beds weren’t just for decoration. By closing the drapes, the bed area stayed warmer in an era where the only heat came from fireplaces.

The most unusual bedroom is the Black Room of Louise de Lorraine, widow of King Henri III. After his assassination, she had her room redecorated entirely in black and lived there for many years afterwards. Rebecca declined to see the room, figuring it was haunted, but I was curious. I don’t see ghosts, but I can sometimes sense things in places, esp. old buildings, but I didn’t feel anything creepy or sad in the room. I think she worked through her grief. I did manage to get a photo of the bed, despite the darkness.
Black Bedroom

The long gallery was originally used for balls and other entertainments. Now the second floor is give over to the Medici Art Gallery.

There are two separate formal gardens at Chenonceau, each planted by the ladies. Catherine de Medici’s garden is more natural looking, with its profusion of flowers and I liked it best.

Diane de Poitier’s garden 1s more formal, though also lovely.

Diane garden

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. See you next week with more #TuesdayTravels.


Chateau D’Amboise & Leonardo Da Vinci #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travel button

Today’s focus is on the Chateau D’Amboise, located above the Loire River. I got this photo from because I wasn’t able to get a shot of the castle from the opposite side of the river. This gives you an idea of how beautiful and imposing it is.

Chateau d'Amboise

Amboise medieval chateau and bridge on Loire river. France, Europe. Unesco site. ©StevanZZ

We arrived in Amboise at lunch time, so Rebecca and I made a beeline for the Anne de Bretagne Creperie.

Amboise creperieAs we’d hoped, they offered buckwheat crepes, known as galettes. (Buckwheat flour is gluten free.) We found a special where you got a savory crepe, a cup of dry or sweet (but not hard) cider and a dessert crepe. It was way too much food as you can see by the size of the dessert galette. I chose the honey almond while Rebecca opted for the chocolate galette. Both were good, but hers was better. What can I say? Chocolate. We happily shared our dessert bounty with the travelers at the next table.

Thus fortified, we were ready for our tour of the Royal Chateau of Amboise, which required us to climb to the top of the hill behind the restaurant where the chateau is located.

Chateau d'Amboise

Chateau d’Amboise

Our first stop was at the Chapel of Saint Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci is ostensibly buried.

In the 15th c. Chateau D’Amboise was acquired by the French royal family who renovated it. We saw rooms representing many different eras from the Medieval period to the 19th century.

Among its claims to fame is the presence of Mary Queen of Scots, who was fostered here, and Leonardo da Vinci. The Italian was enticed to come to France by King Francis I who was raised at Amboise. Da Vinci lived in the nearby villa Clos Lucé, which, alas, was not on our tour. We did view a monument to Leonardo da Vinci on the grounds of Chateau D’Amboise, as well as his burial place in the Chapel of Saint Hubert.

Memorial to Leonardo

Memorial to Leonardo Da Vince, Chateau D’Amboise

I’ll end with views of Amboise and the River Loire as seen from the chateau.

Next week, Chateau Chenonceau, located on the River Cher.