Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, November 2, 2018

One More Chateau

A next day we set off for a visit to a very different chateau, Chenonceau. It wasn’t until we were doing a little research after our visit that we discovered it’s the second most visited chateau in France after Versailles.

The castle has a fascinating history revolving around the women responsible for its construction and expansion.

Originally built in the 13th century by the Marques family, the castle was rebuilt in the 14th after it was burnt. Debts caused the chateau to be sold to Thomas Bohier, Chamberlain to King Charles VIII  in 1513. Bohier’s wife, Katherine Briçonnet, oversaw construction of an almost entirely new castle between 1515 and 1521.
In 1535 the castle was seized from Bohier’s son for unpaid debts to the king. In 1547 after the death of Francis I, the new king, Henry II, gave the castle to his mistress, Dianne de Poitiers. She greatly expanded the buildings and constructed extensive flower and vegetable gardens. After Henry died in 1559, his strong-willed widow and regent Catherine d' Medici forced Diane to exchange it for another. Queen Catherine then made Chenonceau her own favorite residence, adding a new series of gardens. As Regent of France, Catherine spent a fortune on the château and hosted spectacular parties. In 1560, the first ever fireworks display seen in France took place during the celebrations marking the ascension to the throne of Catherine's son Francis II. The grand gallery, which extended along the existing bridge to cross the entire river (that’s to the left in the above picture), was dedicated in 1577. Later owners included Gabrielle d'Estrées, Louise Dupin and Marguerite Pelouse, whose work on the castle exhausted her finances and forced her to give it up in 1881. In 1913, the château was acquired by Henri Menier, a member of the Menier family, famous for their chocolates, who still own it today.

During World War I Gastin Menier set up the gallery to be used as a hospital ward. 

It doesn’t look much like a hospital ward now!

During the Second World War the château, with it’s gallery, was a means of escaping from the Nazi Occupied Zone. The hallway went from one side of the River Cher (the Nazi side) to the "free" zone on the opposite bank. 
In 1951, the Menier family entrusted the château's restoration to Bernard Voisin, who brought the dilapidated structure and the gardens (ravaged in The Cher River flood in 1940) back to its former glory.

Louis XIV, the Sun King. Amazing frame, amazing hair!

After the afternoon at the chateau, it was back to the boat for the final preparations for it’s long winter sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All of a sudden I'm getting comment spam. I'll have to use Captcha until it gets under control. Sorry...