Château de Chenonceau – the famous “Ladies Chateau” over the river in France

Château de Chenonceau – the famous “Ladies Chateau” over the river in France

Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau, one of the three most popular castles of the Loire Valley and one of the most beautiful castles in France, nicknamed “the ladies’ castle” because it belonged to the two most powerful women in France at the time, Diane de Poitiers, mistress of the King, and Catherine de Medici. This 16th-century castle is one of the most beloved and visited castles in France, the second most visited after Versailles.

Touraine, Château de Chenonceau1

Weather in Chenonceau:

Visit Chenonceau Castle:

Information brochures are available in 16 languages, including Russian. Audio guides in 11 languages, including Russian.

Château de Chenonceau opening hours:

Chenonceau Castle is open daily, seven days a week:

  • January 1 – February 21: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • February 22 – March 25: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
  • March 26 – May 31: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • June 1 – June 30: 9:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • July 1 – August 31: 9:00 – 20:00
  • 1 – 30 September: 9:00 – 19:30
  • October 1 – November 1: 9:00 – 18:30
  • 2 – 13 November: 9:00 – 18:00
  • November 14 – December 31: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

Tickets to the Château de Chenonceau:

  • Adults – with information brochure – 15.00 € , with audio guide 19.00 €
  • Children 7 – 18 years old – 12,00 €, with audioguide 15,50 €
  • Students – 12,00 €, with audio guide 15,50 €
  • Free of charge for children under 7 years.

App for iPhone and iPod touch.

Château de Chenonceau offers a free “Meet Chenonceau” app that will give you all the information you need to visit. Available on the App Store.

A complete tour of the castle is available in eleven languages on the App Store.

Getting to the Château de Chenonceau:

Château de Chenonceau is located in the Touraine region, on the Cher River, 214 km from Paris and 34 km from Tours.

Near the château is the TER Chenonceaux regional train station, where trains run from Tours (26 minutes, 9 €).

From Paris to Chenonceaux:

The schedule is for a weekday, current in 2016. To see the timetable for the day you want, visit the official website.

  • By car: 2 hours on the A10 toll road (exit Blois or Amboise);
  • Paris to Tours : 1 hour by T.G.V. train from Paris-Montparnasse station to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (Tours);
    • Travel time: 1:14 by TGV (*), 2:10 by Intercite from Paris-Austerlitz station,
    • ticket 15€ – 65€
    • Departure from Paris: 7:16*, 7:37, 12:16*b 12:59, 16:16*, 17:32*, 17:37, 18:19*, 18:37*, 18:37.
    • Departure from Tours: 6:11*, 6:20, 6:49*, 8:00*, 11:18, 12:01*, 15:14, 17:10, 17:31, 18:31*.
    • departure from PARIS BERCY,
    • 3:00 – 3:15 en route,
    • 15€ ticket,
    • Departure from Paris to Tours: 9:30 and 12:00.
    • Departure from Tours to Paris: 16:15 and 19:55.
    • 25 min by train TER Tours-Chenonceaux
    • Ticket: 9 €
    • Travel time: 24 to 32 min.
    • Departure from Tours: St-Aignan-Noyers / Dijon Ville / Nevers
    • Departure from Tours to Chenonceaux: 5:58, 6:58, 11:57, 13:58, 14:59, 16:15, 17:00, 17:15, 17:58, 18:15, 18:58, 20:45.
    • Departure from Chenonceaux to Tours: 6:34, 7:11, 7:34, 8:34, 17:10, 18:11, 18:34, 20:12, 20:34.
    • approx. 2.5 hours by train in ST PIERRE DES CORPS
    • Ticket 24€ – 27€
    Ticket for the train Paris – Chenonceau:
    • 24,10 € (if in advance) – 44,40 € – 73,40 € 1 way second class.
    • The price depends on the train and fare.
    Parking in Chenonceau:

    Large shaded visitor parking is free .

    Map of Chenonceau castle:

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles Château Chenonceau map

    Chateau Description:

    History of the construction of Chenonceau Castle:

    During the construction of the Château de Chenonceau on the Cher in the 16th century, Thomas Boyer and his wife Catherine Brisonnet demolish the fortified mill and feudal castle of the de Marche family and leave them with only the donjon: the Tower of the de Marche family, which they rebuild in the Renaissance spirit. The front courtyard reproduces the layout of an ancient medieval castle surrounded by water moats.

    Next to the tower, a well decorated with a chimera and an eagle, the emblem of the de Marck family, is preserved.

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles 8

    “The Ladies of Chenonceau:

    Diana de Poitiers (1499-1566).

    In 1547, King Henry II gave Chenonceau to his favorite, Diane de Poitiers, who was a muse of beauty, intelligence and efficiency… The gardens she laid out there were some of the most beautiful and modern of their day. The famous bridge over the Cher river, built on her orders, defined the unique architectural appearance of Chenonceau.

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles 8

    Catherine de Medici (1519-1589)

    Catherine de Medici, widow of Henry II, excommunicates Diana and proceeds to improve the gardens and architectural changes. She erects a two-story gallery to organize lavish festivities. During her regency, Italian luxury reigns in the castle. Catherine rules the kingdom from her green cabinet and asserts the authority of the young king.

    Louise of Lorraine (1553-1601).

    In 1589, after the death of her husband, King Henry III, Louise of Lorraine retires to her castle and, as a sign of mourning, wears white robes, in accordance with etiquette. Forgotten by all, the Queen Dowager seeks to lead a lifestyle befitting her position. She reads, does charity and prays. Her death is the end of the royal presence in Chenonceau.

    Louise Dupin (1706-1799)

    In the 18th century, Louise Dupin, a charming member of the Enlightenment, restored the château to its former splendor. She creates a glittering salon and surrounds herself with the best writers, poets, scientists and philosophers, such as Montesquieu, Voltaire or Rousseau. She shows foresight and saves the Château de Chenonceau during the French Revolution.

    Marguerite Pelouze (1836-1902)

    In the 19th century, Marguerite Pelouse, who came from the industrial bourgeoisie, decided in 1864 to indulge her love of luxury and spent a fortune to restore the château and park as they existed in the era of Diane de Poitiers. She went bankrupt because of political intrigue. Chenonceau was sold and then resold in 1913.

    Simone Meunier (1881-1972).

    In World War I, far from the trenches, Chenonceau does not remain indifferent to the suffering of war. Simone Meunier, head nurse, runs a hospital set up in two galleries of the castle, refurbished and equipped at the expense of her family (producers of Meunier chocolates). Until 1918, more than 2,000 wounded were treated here. Simone’s courage is also demonstrated more than once in her resistance to the invaders during World War II (1939-1945).

    What to see in the castle of Chenonceau:

    The Royal Palace impresses with its opulent decoration of rooms and galleries. You can find complete information in the information brochures issued in the castle. Below are the most interesting rooms of the palace:

    Diana de Poitiers’ Bedroom.

    This room was the bedroom of King Henry II’s favorite, Diane de Poitiers, to whom he gave Chenonceau. In 1559, after Henry II was killed in a tournament duel by the captain of his Scots guards, Gabriel Montgomery, his widow, Queen Catherine de Medici, forced Diana to return the castle of Chenonceau and gave her Chaumont-sur-Loire in return.

    The fireplace by Jean Goujon, a French sculptor of the Fontainebleau school, and the coffered ceiling are decorated with the initials of Henry II and Catherine de Medici: “H” and “C”, which when intertwined could read “D” of Diana de Poitiers. The mantel was restored by Mistress Peluz.

    The four-poster bed, Henry II armchairs covered in Cordoba leather, and the superb inlaid table beside the bed date from the Renaissance. The beautiful 19th-century bronze statuette of Diana d’Anette is a reminder of the royal favorite. On the mantelpiece, note the 19th-century portrait of Catherine de Medici by Sauvage.

    Diana de Poitiers' bedroom, Château Chenonceau

    Two large 16th-century Flemish tapestries depict:

    – “Triumph of Power” on a chariot drawn by two lions, surrounded by scenes from the Old Testament. The Latin inscription at the top translates as “He who loves the gifts of heaven with all his heart does not shy away from acts dictated by Piety.”

    – “The Triumph of Mercy.” Mercy, surrounded by biblical scenes, holds a heart in one hand and points to the sun with the other. The Latin motto here translates, “He who is strong of heart in perils is rewarded in death with Salvation.” To the left of the window is “Christ, stripped of his clothes” by Ribalta, Ribera’s teacher. To the right of the fireplace is “Madonna and Child” by Murillo. Under this painting in a bookcase are the Chenonceau archives; in an open volume in a display case one can see the signatures of Thomas Boyer and Diane de Poitiers.

    The Bedroom of the Five Queens:

    This room is named in memory of Catherine de Medici’s two daughters and three daughters-in-law.

    Her daughters are: Queen Margot (wife of Henry IV), Elizabeth of Valois (wife of King Philip II of Spain), her daughters-in-law: Mary Stuart (wife of Francis II), Elizabeth of Austria (wife of Charles IX) and Louisa of Lorraine (wife of Henry III). The coffered ceiling of the 16th-century apartment of Louisa of Lorraine bears the coats of arms of the Five Queens. The fireplace is from the Renaissance period.

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles Château Chenonceau Bedroom of the Five Queens

    The walls are upholstered with a set of 16th century Flemish tapestries depicting: the Siege of Troy and the Abduction of Helena, the Circus Games in the Colosseum and the Crowning of King David.

    To the left of the fireplace, a fragment of a 16th century tapestry depicts an episode in the life of Samson.

    The furniture consists of a large four-poster bed, two Gothic sideboards with two fifteenth-century polychrome wooden female busts, and a wrought iron traveling trunk.

    • Rubens: The Adoration of the Magi. The canvas was purchased from the King of Spain and is part of a painting on display in the Museo del Prado.
    • Mignard: “Portrait of the Duchess d’Olonne.”
    • Seventeenth-Century Italian School: “Apollo at the Argonaut of Admet”.

    Catherine de Medici’s Bedroom

    Catherine de Medici’s bedroom is decorated with a wooden ceiling of square caissons, painted and gilded. You can see many monograms on it. There is the coat of arms of the house of Medici and in the center are the intertwined initials “S” and “H” of Catherine and Henry II. Other caissons are decorated with carved plant motifs reminiscent of the ceiling of a green study. The richly carved bedroom furniture and the rarest set of Flemish tapestries date from the 16th century. The tapestries depict the biblical theme of Samson’s life.

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles interior

    These tapestries are remarkable for their border with images of animals symbolizing proverbs (“Dexterity trumps Cunning,” etc.) and fables, such as the fable of “The Crab and the Oyster.” In the center of the room is a typical Renaissance four-poster bed decorated with friezes, pilasters, and portraits in profile in the spirit of antique medals.

    To the right of the bed is a work by Correggio, “The Education of Cupid,” painted on wood. The version painted on the canvas is preserved in the National Gallery in London. The fireplace and tiled floor are from the Renaissance period.

    César of Vandomsky’s Bedroom.

    This room recalls César, Duke of Vendôme, son of King Henry IV and Gabrielle d’Estrees, uncle of Louis XIV, who became owner of Chenonceau in 1624. Note:

    • The very beautiful beamed ceiling, which is supported by a cornice decorated with cannons.
    • The Renaissance fireplace was gilded and decorated in the 19th century with the coat of arms of Tom Boyer.
    • The west-facing window is framed by two seventeenth-century caryatids (wood).

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles 8

    The walls are upholstered in a set of three 17th-century Brussels tapestries, The Demeter Cycle, dedicated to the myth of the changing seasons. The beautiful borders, typical of Brussels, depict garlands of fruit and flowers emerging from horns of plenty. The four-poster bed and furniture in this room date back to the Renaissance.

    To the left of the window: Murillo: “Portrait of St. Joseph.”

    Louisa of Lorraine’s Bedroom.

    After the assassination of her husband, King Henry III, by the monk Jacques Clément on 1 August 1589, Louisa of Lorraine retires to Chenonceau for a period of solitude and prayer.

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles Château Chenonceau Loire castles Bedroom of Louisa of Lorraine

    Surrounded by a few intimates, always dressed in white, in keeping with the etiquette of royal mourning, she receives the nickname “The White Queen”. The view of the bedroom has been restored from the surviving ceiling. It is decorated with the trappings of mourning: feathers (the French word for “feather” is consonant with the word “sorrow”), silver tears, gravediggers’ spades, ropes for widows, thorn wreaths and the Greek letter “lambda” (L), Louisa’s initials entwined with that of Henry III, whose portrait, by François Clouet, is in the corner tower.

    A Gothic figure of Christ wearing a wreath of thorns, a religious scene (detail of a 16th-century altarpiece), and a prayer bench underscore the pious and mournful atmosphere of this room. The bed and furniture date from the 16th century. The Capuchin nuns whom Louise of Lorraine wanted to have by her side, on the third floor of the castle, did not return to their convent until the seventeenth century.

    Diana’s garden

    The structure of the parterre has remained unchanged since Diane de Poitiers laid it out, and its modern appearance was created by Achille Duchesne (1866-1947). Near the garden is the Chancery, which served as a residence for the steward under Catherine de Medici.

    Two perpendicular and two diagonal avenues break up the parterre into eight large triangular lawns decorated with graceful scrolls of santolines (12,000 m2 ). In the center, the original fountain has been restored, as in the days of Diana de Poitiers.

    The high terraces protecting the garden from the floods of the Cher, decorated with large vases, offer a clear view of the yew, birch, boxwood and hellebore bushes which set the rhythm of the garden. More than a hundred stumpy hibiscuses bloom here in the summer. Flowerbeds placed between the bushes emphasize the strict geometric pattern of the garden. Beginning in autumn, pansies and daisies bloom all winter long. In spring, petunias, decorative tobacco, dwarf dahlias, verbena, or begonias are planted and will be a joy to behold until the following autumn. The walls supporting the terraces around the perimeter of the garden are trimmed with climbing roses of the variety “Iceberg”.

    Catherine’s Garden

    The garden of Queen Catherine de Medici is tamer (5,500 m2 ) and is the epitome of refinement. Its alleys overlooking the water and the park offer a magnificent view of the castle’s western facade. The design of the garden is based on five lawns grouped around an elegant circular pond and bordered by boxwood balls.

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles 8

    To the east, the garden is enclosed by a small wall above a moat, decorated with Claire Mathenne climbing roses.

    Stem roses and lawns of low-cut, rounded lavender bushes accentuate the garden’s harmonious pattern. The view to the north of the Green Garden and Orangery is a creation of Bernard Palissy.

    Labyrinth

    Situated on the park’s 70-hectare lawn, the Italian Labyrinth, created at the wish of Catherine de Medici, consists of 2,000 yew bushes over an area of more than one hectare. In its center, a pergola is built on a hill, allowing a view of the entire labyrinth from above. This small building is braided with live willow. On top is a statue of Venus, and next to it, on top of a cedar trunk, is a statue of a nymph holding Bacchus the Child.

    Château Chenonceau Loire castles Château Chenonceau Labyrinth

    The labyrinth is surrounded by an alley with vases of boxwood and ivy, and from the east there is a view of the monumental Caryatids by Jean Goujon. These caryatids, the Palladas and Cybele, and the Atlanteans, Hercules and Apollo, once adorned the facade of the castle and were later moved behind the labyrinth.

    Carriage Gallery

    The carriage gallery, located in the large stables of the 16th-century farmhouse, displays a rare collection of noblemen’s and peasant horse-drawn carriages. Typical French bric and tonneau, or English ones such as the tilbury, they are part of the cultural heritage we want to preserve. A lord’s carriage or a peasant’s carriage, they were in use mainly in the nineteenth century and are still sometimes used in rural areas…

    Chenonceau, the “Dame’s Castle” over the river in France

    Chenonceau, or Chateau de Chenonceau (originally Chateau de Chenonceau), is just south of the French village of the same name. It is rightly recognized as one of the best and most famous in the Loire Valley.

    The main pearl of the estate is the medieval castle. Its architecture is a mixture of late Gothic and early Renaissance.

    Château Chenonceau

    It is built over the Cher River, which in clear weather is so quiet and peaceful that it looks like an ordinary lake. An interesting feature of the Chenonceau estate is that it was built, maintained and expanded largely under the influence of noble women. For more than 4 centuries, women’s succession has been preserved here. That’s why Chenonceau is also known as the “ladies’ castle”.

    Where is the Château de Chenonceau

    This beautiful chateau can be seen in the Loire department in central France.

    The nearest major city of Tours is 30 kilometers to the west.

    The castle of Chenonceau. France

    Château de Chenonceau. View from above

    History of Chenonceau

    The first mention of the Chenonceau estate dates back to the 11th century. At that time there was a castle surrounded by ditches with water. With the coast it was connected to the lift bridge (as befits a classic medieval). Nearby was a mill. Its foundations later served as the basis for the construction of the castle.

    It is known that in the 13th century the Chenonceau estate belonged to the Marques family.

    In 1412, the castle was burned to punish its owner Jean Marques for rebellion. It was rebuilt in the 1430s, but Marques’s wife insisted on selling the estate.

    The present castle was built in 1514-1522. In 1556-1559 it was completed with a bridge over the river. The construction of the crossing was supervised by the French Renaissance architect, Philibert de L’Orme. In 1570-1576 a beautiful gallery was built on the bridge by the architect Jean Boulant.

    Château Chenonceau

    Most of the construction, repair and modernization of the castle and surrounding area was done by women. Here are the most famous of them.

    Catherine Brissonnet.

    The castle we see today was built in the early 16th century. At the time, Thomas Boyer bought the land here, demolished the outdated buildings and the mill. The vacated place became the site for the construction of a new castle. It was under the supervision of Boyer’s wife, Catherine Brisonnet, that most of the work was carried out.

    Diana de Poitiers

    After Boyer died, the castle was appropriated for debts by King Francis I. But he did not have time to dispose of the estate properly, for he soon died and the estate passed to his son Henry the Second. He gave the castle to his mistress Diana de Poitiers. It must be said that the lady liked the manor very much, and she invested a lot of effort in it. In particular, the gardens in the surrounding area were developed and a bridge over the river appeared.

    Diana de Poitiers

    Diana de Poitiers

    Catherine de Medici

    Henry the Second died in 1559, and his lawful wife (already a widow at the time) Catherine de Medici drove her husband’s mistress out of the castle.

    By the way, Catherine also liked this castle. She spent a lot of money on its restoration and expansion. A two-story gallery in the Italian Renaissance style was added to the bridge.

    Catherine de Medici

    Catherine de Medici

    Louise de Lorraine Vaudemont.

    Catherine de Medici died in 1589 and the castle went to her daughter-in-law Louise de Lorraine Vaudemont, wife of King Henry III.

    Unfortunately, in the same year Henry the Third was assassinated (in general in the Middle Ages it was fashionable to periodically kill various kings, lords and other nobles). Louise fell into a deep depression and turned the castle of Chenonceau practically into a tomb. She painted her room black. The whole estate was in mourning.

    Louise de Lorraine Vaudemont

    Louise de Lorraine Vaudemont.

    A Century of Oblivion.

    Louise later gave the castle to her niece who was engaged to Henry’s son, this time the Fourth. But for the next 100 years, few people were interested in the castle, and it gradually began to deteriorate.

    Louisa Dupin.

    In 1733 the castle was acquired by Claude Dupin. His wife, also Louise, organized a literary salon in the castle, which became quite famous in elite circles. Famous writers and playwrights often visited it.

    It is worth mentioning an interesting fact of Chenonceau’s salvation. During the French Revolution, rioters planned to destroy the castle as a symbol of the power of the king. Louise practically saved the entire estate by reminding the angry mob that the bridge of this castle is the only river crossing in the area.

    Louise Dupin

    Louise Dupin.

    Marguerite Pelose.

    She purchased the castle in 1864 and immediately began to restore it to its original condition. Significantly updating and improving the interior, she got rid of several of Catherine de Medici’s transformations. But Margaret was so keen on modernizing that she spent too much money. As a result, the estate had to be sold to avoid incurring large debts.

    As you can see, so many women have invested in Chenonceau, which is why it is often called “The Lady’s Castle”.

    Chenonceau today

    The château is now owned by the Meunier family. Henri Emile Anatole Meunier (a member of a famous family of confectioners) bought it back in 1913.

    During the First World War, a hospital was set up here to treat wounded soldiers.

    The Castle of Chenonceau Hospital

    Exposition illustrating the hospital in the château

    During World War II, the castle was bombed by both the German army and the anti-Hitler coalition army. As a result, considerable damage was caused to the castle. The Menier family entrusted Bernard Voysin with the restoration of the castle in 1951, and it was a success. He brought the ruined structure in almost perfect condition.

    Since 1840, the French Ministry of Culture gave the estate the status of a historical monument.

    The castle of Chenonceau in tourism

    Despite the fact that the estate is privately owned, it is accessible to tourists. It is among the most visited places in the country. Every year it is visited by up to 1 million travelers. For example, in 2007 it was visited by about 800,000 people.

    At the entrance to the estate is a beautiful avenue of plane trees. On the right you can see the garden of Diane de Poitiers, and at its entrance is the house of the steward, built in the 16th century.

    On the lower floor of the castle is the Hall of the Guards. There are 16th-century tapestries hanging here. You can also go to the Green Room and the Room of the Five Queens (so named after Catherine de Medici’s two daughters and three daughters-in-law), the bedroom of Diana de Poitiers and the room of Catherine de Medici herself. In total, about 20 rooms are available for tourists, with interiors and furniture from the Middle Ages.

    Gallery of Chenonceau Castle Green Room Bedroom of Diana de Poitiers Bedroom of the Five Queens Living room Kitchen room

    Outside the château, but on the grounds of the Chenonceau estate, there is a wax museum, the Galerie des Dames, a parking lot and picnic areas.

    The Gardens of the Castle

    The gardens around the château

    A labyrinth in the castle gardens

    A labyrinth in the château gardens

    Opening hours

    January 1 – February 9 from 9:30 to 17:00 February 10 – April 6 from 9:30 to 17:30 April 7 – May 27 from 9:00 to 18:30 May 28 – June 30 from 9:00 to 19:00 July 1 – August 26 from 9:00 to 19:30 August 27 – September 30 from 9:00 to 19:00 October 1 – November 5 from 9:00 to 18:30 November 6 – November 11 from 9:00 to 18:00 November 12 – December 21 from 9:30 to 17:00 December 22 – December 31 from 9:30 to 17:30

    Cost of visiting

    In general, the entrance to the estate is free, but to visit the gardens, the castle and the gallery you have to pay.

    • Adults – 14 euros
    • Students and children from 7 to 18 years – 11 euros
    • Free admission for children under 7 years old.

    How to get there

    The castle is located 214 km from Paris, 30 km from Tours. It’s a 2-hour drive from Paris to Chenonceau via the A10 (exit Blois or Amboise). By rail from Paris to Tours in 1 hour and 40 minutes and then half an hour from Tours to the Château. Get off at Chenonceau station. The railway station is located near the ticket office (400 m). By car from Tours to Chenonceau Château can be reached by road No D976 or D40-D140.

    For more information on opening hours, costs and conditions of access to the Château de Chenonceau, visit its official website – https://www.chenonceau.com/

    Chateau de Chenonceau video

    The first 15 minutes of this video are devoted to the Château de Chenonceau. The rest of the time is devoted to the Châteaux of Amboise and Chaumont-sur-Loire, which in turn is also very interesting. Enjoy watching it!

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