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Chenonceau is the second château that we visited in the Loire Valley in June of this year. Click here to read about our visit to Château de Chambord. Like Chambord, Chenonceau is also well known and thoroughly written up – see the official website here.
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The chateau presents itself and distinguish it from the many others in the area – apparently by its destiny!

Chenonceau is an exceptional site not only because of its original design, the richness of its collections, its furniture and its decorations, but also because of its destiny, since it was loved, administrated and protected by women, who were all extraordinary and who, for the most part have marked history. … The iron, but very feminine, fist in the velvet glove has always preserved Chenonceau during times of conflict and war in order to make it forever a place of peace.

 

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Compared to Chambord, this is a smaller but much better decorated chateau.

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 The castle was built around 1513. King Henry II offered the château as a gift to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. It went through several expansions between 1517 and 1559.

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Diane’s garden

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After Henry II died in 1559, his strong-willed widow and regent Catherine de’ Medici forced Diane to exchange it for the Château Chaumont. Queen Catherine then made Chenonceau her own favorite residence and added gardens.

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Catherine’s garden

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On Catherine’s death in 1589 the château went to her daughter-in-law, Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont, wife of King Henry III. At Chenonceau Louise was told of her husband’s assassination in 1589 and she fell into a state of depression, spending the remainder of her days wandering aimlessly along the château’s corridors dressed in mourning clothes amidst somber black tapestries stitched with skulls and crossbones.  (Wikipedia)

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Kitchens were constructed in the piers of the bridge.

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My wild guess of this contraption is an automatic rotissserie that was powered by the flow of the river. I think the pulley is connected to something that is being dragged by the water below.

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We had lunch at the chateau’s restaurant, L’Orangerie. It was almost 2’o clock and therefore we managed to get a place … at other times, reservation is a must.

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It was noted that King Henry II’s insignia, which is stamped on the cutlery we used at the restaurant, contains an intertwining H (for Henry) and C (for Catherine) but there is also a D for Diana in the background. The beauty and brains of the two women, their background and competition for the king’s attention must have inspired countless hours of period TV drama. There is a good article here about the rivalry.

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On the grounds of the chateau is a maze, newly reconstructed based on Catherine’s design.

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Upon reaching the centre of the maze …

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There is really a lot to do here beside wandering inside the castle. Check out their very helpful website here.

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