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