If you can only visit one chateau in France, then it should be Chenonceau.
The chateau stretches across the River Cher and was transformed over the years from an old water mill to a magnificent chateau.
The chateau is surrounded by magnificent formal gardens and wooded walks.
The village that supported the chateau is still enclosed in the grounds and still plays an important role in supporting the chateau.
Women have always played an important role in the evolution of Chenonceau.
Firstly Catherine Briconnet who was the wife of the Kings Chamberlain supervised the construction of the original chateau. Then came Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry the second, who built the gardens and the bridge spanning the river.
After the king's death his widow Catherine de Medicis reclaimed the chateau and built the gallery on the bridge.
The chateau survived the revolution of 1789 because the local people had respect for Louise Dapin who had inherited the chateau and was the wife of a local tax inspector.
She was an intellectual woman and entertained the literary giants of her day including Voltaire.
The chateau was then purchased by Madame Pelouze in 1863 and she restored most of the chateau to its original design.
During the first world war the chateau was used as a hospital for the wounded and a plaque in the long gallery commemorates this.
During the second world war the River Cher was the dividing line between the occupied German north and the Vichy (French governed south) the bridge was used as a route between the two parts of France.
What ever time of the year you visit Chenonceau you cannot fail to be impressed by the floral displays in the chateau, all are grown on the estate, which also makes its own wine.

 All photographs are the copyright of Hand Maid Tours, please ask before you use them.
For problems or questions regarding this web contact john.in.france@wanadoo.fr