Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, August 6, 2021

A Chateau Visit, July 28

 We developed a plan (I know, I know). We were going to head out for about a months cruising on Friday so we decided to visit one of the Loire chateaus on Wednesday. Our choice was the Domaine of Chaumont-sur-Loire, known for it’s beautiful gardens and installed art.

Originally founded around the year 1000 by the Count of Blois, it ended up belonging to the d”Amboise family for about 500 years. In 1465, Louis XI burned it to the ground to punish Pierre I d”Amboise because he was involved in an aristocratic revolt against the king. But in the fickle ways of the French aristocracy, he soon returned to favor and the land was returned to him, beginning its rebirth.

In 1559, Catherine de Medici, now in control of the chateau, decided she wanted something different. That would be the chateau at Chenonceau (so far, our favorite), then controlled by Diane de Poitiers. In return for the expropriation, Catherine “gave” Diane Chaumont and Mme. Poitiers proceeded to complete several construction projects that had been languishing. Over the years, several families controlled the property until is was purchased by the heir to the Say sugar fortune, Marie-Charlotte-Constance Say in 1875. In the 1880’s, the landscape architect Henri Duchene began creating the grounds, which today are the main attraction.

The chateau had its ups and downs during Mme. Says ownership and was finally expropriated by the French state in 1937.

Every year the chateau sponsors the International Garden Festival. Designers from all over the world design small gardens to the years theme, this year “Biomimicry in the Garden.” There were some fascinating displays. You can read greater details of all the displays  and see pictures of all the individual gardens here


A cactus garden was one of the displays.

We liked this creative display of scoops in another.

One of the permanent features of the gardens is the “Misty Canyon.” A small valley below the main gardens, it features man-made mist and some unusually crafted sculptures, as well as a rustic wooden bridge.

The interior of the chateau is as you would expect, with squeaky parquet floors, lots of hanging tapestries and ornate furniture. In keeping with the art-centric features of the chateau, we did enjoy what they’d done with the chapel.

It was a 2 1/2 hour drive each way from Briare so we didn’t have time to visit the permanent gardens on the northern side of the property. Maybe another time.

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