If you read my previous post on the Castle of Villandry, you are already there.
While Villandry was my favorite, especially the gardens, we had the chance to visit 3 more castles during our trip.
The story behind the building of this castle is the most interesting. It was built over a period of 42 years under the influence of three women.
Katherine Briconnet’s manor: 1517 – Bohier razed the former Château des Marques, retaining only the main tower; the forecourt was created from the foundations, while the new château was built on the pillars of the former mill. In addition to its position over the river, this manor had a number of remarkable features; a nearly square floor plan, altered only to the east by the projections of the chapel and the study, which were essential elements in every château.
Diane de Poitiers’s Gallery: 1547 – With the aim of creating new gardens on the opposite bank of the Cher river, Diane de Poitiers commissioned the king’s architect Philibert de l’Orme to construct a 60-meter-long arched bridge and gallery over the river. Only the bridge was built; connected to the rear façade of the château, it was not aligned directly with the entrance corridor, but rather slightly offset so that it did not block the central window. A gatehouse on the far south side controlled the passageway between the bridge and the new gardens.
Catherine de Medicis’ additions: 1559 – In late 1559, Catherine forced Diane to exchange Chenonceau for the Château de Chaumont. Once she finally had possession of the château, the queen mother decided to proceed with the bridge project, and expanded it by adding two galleries. This wok was meant to increase capacity of a château that was then destined to receive the court.
The Gallery played an important role during the first and second world war. During the First World War, the owner of Chenonceau paid for the setting up of a hospital whose different services occupied all the rooms of the château. In the Second World War, the river Cher corresponded to the line of demarcation. The entrance to the château was therefore in the occupied zone right bank. The gallery where the south door gave access to the left bank made it possible for the resistance to pass large numbers of people into the free zone. Throughout the war a German artillery unit was kept at the ready to destroy Chenonceau.
Azay Le Rideau
The castle is now own by the government and was under extensive renovation. It was still worth the visit, but will want to visit when the restoration is finalized.
Leonardo de Vinci spent the last years of his life at the Château du Clos Luce, close from Amboise. He worked on several projects for the king. He died on May 2, 1519 and was buried in the Collegiale St. Florentin church close to the castle. The church burned in 1807 and his presumed remains found during a search that took place in 1863 were transfer in the chapel at the château of Amboise.
Several events to celebrate the 5th centenary of the anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci in Amboise take place throughout the year.
The castles are open to visitors most of the days. Check the respective websites for exact hours and pricing.
We made the city of Tours our pied-a-terre during our trip and is located just a few hours south of Paris.