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
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
She was an intellectual woman and entertained the literary giants of her day
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.