Welcome to Postcard Wednesday, Part Two , Chateau of the Loire Valley, France.
History, architecture and gardens are of great interest to me , so needless to say they are always included in any travel itinerary. I was certainly in my element exploring the magnificent Chateau in the Loire Valley. Probably,my only regret was that we were not able to enjoy more of those wonderful places in the time we had but that is a reason to hopefully return one day.
Chateau de Chambord is the largest and grandest and not surprisingly most visited chateau in the Loire Valley, with 440 rooms , 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. Begun in 1519 by Francis1 as a hunting lodge, it quickly grew into something much grander.
Viewed from afar its many chimneys and turrets have the look of of a city skyline.
I was fascinated by the various shapes and details of the Renaissance towers and turrets with their nod to Italian architecture.
The double helix staircase , thought to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci, but this has not been confirmed, is the centerpiece of the chateau. The two spirals ascend the three floors without ever meeting, illuminated by a sort of light house at the highest point of the chateau.
A view of the formal garden, looking toward the woodland park and game reserve.
The Chateau de Cheverney was built in the early 17th.century by the Hurault family to a design inspired by the Palais de Luxemborg in Paris. It has remained in the Harault family for six decades.
We were welcomed by this rather clever picture of the chateau depicted in miniature pumpkins.
Through out the grounds were displays of seasonal produce from the kitchen garden.
The sumptuous dining room was playing host to a WW1 dinner re-enactment to celebrate the 100th . anniversary of Armistice Day
The armoury is the largest room of the castle and has many original decorations from the 17th. century.The ceiling is made with painted beams and the wood panels are painted with floral decorations and Latin inscriptions. The room of course also contains a large collection of arms and armour.
This pretty room is the nursery. At the time of our visit there was a Lego exhibition with many characters in various rooms. I must admit I wasn’t so sure they fitted with the history all around but the children visiting when we were there just loved them.
The Chateau of Chemonceau was built in 1514-1522 on the site of an old mill dating back to the11th., century and was later extended to span the River Cher. The bridge over the river was built in 1556-1559.
I was very interested in the role women played in the history of Chemonceau. The first of these women was Katherine Briconnet , wife of Thomas Bohier , (who was built the new chateau). The work on the new chateau was overseen by Katherine, who delighted in hosting French Nobility.
In 1535 the chateau was seized from Bohier’s son by King Francis 1 for unpaid debts to the crown , after Francis ‘death Henry 11 offered the chateau as a gift to his mistress , Diane de Poitiers , who became very attached to the chateau. Diane commissioned the building of the arched bridge and oversaw the planting of extensive flower and vegetable gardens,
After Henry 11 died in 1559 his widow and regent Catherine de Medici forced Diane to exchange Chenonceau for Chateau Chaumont. Queen Catherine then made Chemenceau her own favourite residence adding a new series of gardens. As Regent of France Catherine spent a fortune on the chateau adding the grand gallery , rooms between the chapel and library and a service wing.
On Catherine’s death in 1589 the chateau went to her daughter-in-law Louise de Lorraine Vaudemont, wife of King Henry 11. Sadly it was here Louise was told of her husband’s assassination and fell in a deep state of depression , spending her days in mourning clothes amidst black tapestries stitched with skulls and cross bones.
Henry iv obtained the chateau for his mistress Gabrielle d’Estrees by paying the debts of Catherine de Medici which had been inherited by Louise and threatened to ruin her. In return she passed it to her niece , Francoise de Lorraine , only six but already betrothed to Cesar de Bourbon, duc de Vendome.
The chateau belonged to the Duc de Vendome and his descendents for the next hundred years.
In 1733 the estate was sold to a wealthy squire named Claude Dupin and his wife Louise. Louise was a highly cultivated woman with theatre in her blood who established a literary salon attracting many writers, playwrights and philosophers.
In 1864 Marguerite Pelouze , a rich heiress, acquired the chateau, restoring it in 1875.
Madame Pelouze sold the chateau to Cuban millionaire Jose-Emilio Terry in 1891, who in turn sold it to a family member .
In 1913 the chateau was acquired by Henri Menier, a member of the Menier family, famous for chocolates, who still own it today.
The chateau continues the tradition of magnificent floral arrangements composed of flowers and produce from the on site picking garden. Below is a small section of the dahlia garden.
I do hope you enjoyed a peek at a few of the magnificent chateau of The Loire Valley.