The Castle Chenonceau
Often thought of as one of the most beautiful castles in the Loire, Chenonceau has always been a
favorite château in France. Originally a small castle along the banks of the River Cher, the castle
got its current design in the 16th century when it was seized by the crown for unpaid debts. In
1547, King Henri II offered the castle to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who became fervently
attached to the castle and its view of the river. It was Diane de Poitiers who installed Chenonceau’
s recognizable arched bridge spanning the river, as well as the extensive flower and vegetable
gardens set in buttressed stone terraces on the grounds.
Upon King Henri II’s death in 1559, his clearly bitter widow and regent Catherine de Medici had
Poitiers expelled from the castle and she moved into the scenic spot herself, adding even more
extensive gardens. Since then the castle was privately owned for years and even used as a make-
shift hospital for soldiers during WWII; its gallery bridge’s southern door provided access to the
unoccupied Free Zone while the castle’s main entrance was in the Nazi occupied zone.
Chenonceau today is one of the most visited and popular of the Loire castles and its Renaissance
architecture, well-lit gallery and beautiful gardens make it a castle you shouldn’t miss.