The second most visited chateau in France after Chateau de Versailles, Chateau de Chenonceau is a Renaissance masterpiece not to be missed when visiting the Loire Valley. Constructed directly above the River Cher, the "Pont Chateau" (bridge castle) is unique not only in its distinctive architecture but also its rich historical background.
The chateau is 214km away from Paris and 34km away from Tours.
It is 2 hours away by car via the A10 highway "Aquitaine" (Blois or Amboise exits)
It is 1 hour away from Paris-Montparnasse or Paris Aéroport Roissy-CDG to Saint Pierre des Corps (Tours) and then transfer by TER to Gare de Chenonceaux that spends 25 minutes.
Check out our tips and guides at the end of the article
A brief history lesson about the chateau: It was first built in the 16th century around 1514-1522 as a noble estate. The initial estate, 600m away from the current building was burnt down during a fire. The chateau was a called "Château des Dames"; Henri II famously offered the chateau to its mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who was one of the main influencers to its design. During the World War I, the castle also served as a military hospital, serving hundreds and thousands of soldiers.
Walking towards the entrance, the castle reveals itself little by little, giving you the impression of a child slowly unwrapping a present.
The chateau's unique architectural style includes a mix of Gothic and Rennaissance forms from the architects Philibert de l'Orme and Jean Bullant.
The gallery and chapel walls are made of Tufa, a type of limestone unique to the Loire region, which is also used to build the exterior facade. The stone is extracted in the chateau's surroundings.
An extraordinary collection of art pieces and furniture are displayed in the multiple rooms that are open to visitors. Works of Rubens, Primaticcio, Tintoretto and other works from the Louvre are displayed here.
Note the wide use of floral patterns highlighting the feminine touch of its past residents.
The kitchen display features authentic bronze kitchenware and food decorations to recreate a real 16th-century kitchen.
Not only are the flowers on the vines great to look at, they also serve a functional purpose. Blooming flowers indicate that the vines are in good health. Rosebushes are commonly used as it is delicate and sensitive.
The chateau is surrounded by lush green trees and flower gardens first planted by Diane de Poitiers. Don't forget to visit them and catch a view of the castle from both sides.
The restaurant next to the gardens offers spectacular views of the chateau and reasonable prices for lunch or dinner.
O'BON PARIS NOTE
The castle and the gardens take approximately 2-3 hours to visit; the garden maze is great for the kids.
If you're going on a day trip to Chateau de Chenonceau, we recommend passing by Chateau de Chambord, which is one hour away by car.
Click to check out our blog about Chateau de Chambord here.
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Author and Photographer: Pierre Ieong