Of all the beautiful chateaux along the Loire, Chenonceau, built in 1513, is the one I have visited and loved the most. Which is why I can always go back again to walk that grand gallery over the Cher river, delight in the exquisite floral arrangements in each room, and read about the rivalry of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers and visit their competing gardens.Their iron, but very feminine, fists in their velvet gloves always preserved Chenonceau in times of conflict and war.
This year with my six-year-old granddaughter as my tour guide, I visited places in the 70 hectares that I had never seen before–the Maze, the extensive greenhouses and gardens where the flowers for those beautiful displays are grown and arranged (did I think they call 1-800-FLOWERS ??), the stables, the XVI century farm, and the historic display of the chateau’s use as a military hospital during World War I.
The castle chef’s at work
One of the many beautiful bouquets designed for each room
This lily pad display even mimicking the pond scum
Getting in the mood–as if one had to work at getting excited to visit France! As I prepare for my lucky 13th trip to France this summer and a 3 week stay in Orleans with my daughter and granddaughters, I’ve … Continue reading →
Very often it’s not the grand vistas but the intricate details that are most remembered from our travels. Enjoy this array of exquisite bits of flotsam and jetsam from my travels in England and France.
A swan at Versailles
The “Thinker” gargoyle at Notre Dame
Two gargoyles’ view of Paris
Chenonceau through a window
The kitchen at Chenonceau
Drain pipe at Chambord
Opera costumes at Chambord
Egyptian cats at the Louvre
MIniatures of Paris in shop on Ile St. Louis
Pont D’Alexandre Paris
Near Buckingham Palace
And ending on a yummy note…the Albert Pub in London. See you there!
From the flower market on Île de la Cité to Le Tour Eiffel peaking through the trees to the irises at a bed and breakfast in Amboise to pink tulips in the garden at Chenonceau and its wisteria covered cottage to a colorful array of tulips behind Notre Dame to touches of color at Villandry to the spring green of the cloisters at Mont Saint-Michel and, finally, to the sacred grounds of Normandy.
I have visited Chenonceau three times. The first time with my daughter in the dead of winter. I was doing my motherly “duty” and visiting her during her first year of living abroad in France. The program that was to help her find a job didn’t work out and she was on her own, finding both friends and employment. We spent over a week staying in three different chateaux and visiting many of the rest.
But Chenonceau always stuck in my mind with its graceful arched bridge spanning the River Cher. It was commissioned by Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II in 1555 who also oversaw the planting of extensive flower and vegetable gardens. Set along the banks of the river, but buttressed from flooding by stone terraces, the exquisite gardens were laid out in four triangles.
After King Henry II died in 1559, his strong-willed widow Catherine de’Medici and forced Diane to exchange it for the Château Chaumont and made Chenonceau her own favorite residence, adding a new series of gardens. Only is France will women complete over the same man with dueling gardens!