WELCOME TO THE CASTLE!
The balcony on the first story of the Château de Chenonceau gives an unequalled panoramic view from its strong height, as though emulating the homage tower. This balcony served as a lookout point that opened like a watchtower towards the domain´s entrance, allowing visitors to see the stream of guests arrive. When you see it, you can´t help but think of the storybook balcony where the captivated princess leans out to watch her lover recite love poems accompanied by troubadours...
A long road leads to a castle that is possibly the most magnificent of all those built in the Loire Valley, flanked by massive plane trees that serve as a passageway for visitors. The foliage of its woodland is populated by a swarm of trunks with large crowns. Its exquisite gardens are adorned with colourful flowers and scented plants. The perfect marriage of French and English gardens...
In the foreground, a refurbished tower condenses decades and centuries of calm secret, monitoring the activity of the Château de Chenonceau and witnessing the great figures of French history who made an appearance here at some point, leaving their stamp on the castle´s chronicles. The original construction was razed to the ground by its owners in order to erect a new castle in its place with architecture that was more in line with the changing times, and the tower in question is the only thing that survives of the old feudal castle.
Our first protagonist, one of the numerous ladies who have made their stamp on the Château de Chenonceau, appears at this point. Catherine, the lady in question, and her husband purchased the aforementioned medieval fortification. Her husband worked as an administrator for the monarch and amassed a large fortune, which he used to purchase his new home. She devoted herself totally to monitoring the construction of her new castle while Mr. Thomas maintained the king´s estate. She rode her horse to the quarry every day, covering the thirty kilometres between her home and the quarry, which was on the outskirts of the court at the time. Catherine´s influence on the style and concept of the new castle was significant.
Château de Chenonceau
37150 Chenonceaux, France
THE TASTY QUAIL WITH FOIE GRAS
The delicious fowl, without a doubt, is a delectable feast that perpetuates the castle´s gastronomic legacy. We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sample exquisite delicacies that satisfy even the most discerning gourmets, exactly as they did in the past when prepared in the castle kitchens and served in its magnificent halls. And it´s because, despite having almost no meat, this small bird is incredibly tasty and soft. Despite its diminutive size, it offers a diverse range of culinary alternatives as well as a delectable flavour.
The breast and drumsticks of male quail are the most popular cuts. The rest of the bird, which isn´t much, is used in broths, along with its bones. Quail meat is far more consistent than farm bird meat, as it is with other birds that fly freely over great distances. Its compact meat has a great nutritional value and, because it contains minimal fat and a lot of carbs, it has a very low calorie index. Although its bones are limited, the proteins, calcium, and phosphorus in its thick meat will help to strengthen our skeleton. Furthermore, its high iron content will aid in the prevention of anemia.
Due to the fact that the birds are being kept on farms, quail can now be enjoyed throughout the year. Its exploitation is extremely profitable, particularly in terms of egg production.
Quail can be prepared in a variety of ways, but at Château de Chenonceau, it´s roasted and stuffed with foie gras and drizzled with wine. We are confident that you will fall in love with its exquisite feel. It´s a genuine divine delicacy!
The quail´s origins are so ancient that they are even mentioned in the Bible, "dropping from the sky as if it were rain to feed the people of Israel." The quail is a Chinese species that made its way to Japan, where it delighted the imperial court with its song. The quail was domesticated as a pet from then on. Its culinary merits were found after the emperor was cured of tuberculosis thanks to a diet centred on its flesh.
In the restaurant in the Green Garden, near to the castle, you can try the fowl with foie gras recipe.
BROTHS OF OWN PRODUCTION
The vineyards that surround the Château de Chenonceau provide for a very pleasant picture to observe as we draw closer. These same vineyards, which have carved out a place in the region´s scenery, also produce a wine with international acclaim.
Throughout the castle´s history, as the structure took shape, the vineyards grew alongside it, and all of the castle´s owners took a keen interest in farming the land, mindful of the immense wealth that their grapes would end up bringing to the name of Chenonceau.
Mrs. Catherine, the castle´s first owner, was the one who brought a new plant from afar to the area and planted it in the castle´s grounds. Her brother, who turned out to be an abbot, was an important asset in her attempts... And many spiritual fathers were pioneers in the wine industry!
The brothers´ efforts eventually paid off, as a new strain grew and acclimatized effectively. From that point on, the effort had the king´s support. The famed Chenonceau wine was born out of such effort, which began as a personal commitment at the time. The regional wine culture has been preserved to this day by hard work, commitment, and environmental stewardship. This wine is the consequence of the alchemy that occurred when this region, its people, and the castle were combined.
The Château de Chenonceau has a modest vineyard, but this does not prevent it from creating a wonderful wine that is full of harmony and majesty. It has a strong, fruity perfume that has a colonial feel about it, as if it were a blend of coffee and tobacco. It is a source of great pride for the Château de Chenonceau to have contributed its wine to the region´s history and to have elevated it to the status of kings and queens.
Currently, more than half of the fifty wine growers in the area are women, deserving heirs to their forefathers. The jury that chooses each year which wine is the best and will be auctioned for a charitable cause is made up entirely of women, demonstrating the region´s support of women in the wine industry.
The castle cellars are located in the basement of the Green Garden´s historic stables. The exquisite wines of the Château de Chenonceau can be tasted and purchased in this old chateau, which still retains its Renaissance vaults.
A BEAUTIFUL FOOTBRIDGE OVER THE RIVER
The Château de Chenonceau, regarded by many to be the most beautiful of all the castles in the Loire Valley, is a castle with style, slenderness, and feminine elegance. Perhaps one of the reasons for its attractiveness is that it is constructed on a river, which sets it apart from the others, and what a difference it makes...! Make your own decision.
The side gardens, from where we can picture the leaning structure, are the ideal position to enjoy the castle in all of its magnificence. The view from those beautiful gardens is the epitome of refinement, and it also allows us to confirm that the castle appears to hover on some arcades that separate it from the river´s surface. It´s the ideal location for us to immerse ourselves in the castle´s history...
Catherine, our first protagonist, started building her new Renaissance castle on top of a fortified mill that was once a part of the previous fortification. She built a mansion on the banks of the Cher River based on this mill, but throughout time, the structure underwent fresh improvements that would make it a universal reference.
Diana, the king´s favourite and recipient of the castle as a gift, was the castle´s second protagonist. Diana chose to build the castle over the river´s width, giving it a unique architectural style. She also designed her breath-taking gardens, which were ground-breaking at the time. The castle´s architectural and landscape splendour could only be compared to its own body!
It´s time to meet the castle´s third heroine, Catherine, the king´s Florentine bride who embraced modernity, luxury, and investments, despite the fact that she had to rely on the banks of his native land due to a lack of funds in the royal coffers.
Catalina, who was particularly interested in political intrigues, usually recruited exceptionally beautiful young ladies for her parties, dressed as nymphs or with a simple veil displaying the silhouette, but always with their faces hidden behind a mask... In addition to the presence of these seductive young women, guests at these gatherings could drink copious amounts of wine, which was an infallible method of extracting all kinds of information from their opponents... For chatting too much, some of them even lost everything!
DIGNITY AND HONOUR!
The Château de Chenonceau has always stood out for its remarkable achievements and the many functions it has performed throughout its history, including one in particular that honors and greatly honors its last proprietors.
The castle was up for auction a year before the First World War broke out. Henry Meunier, a powerful entrepreneur famed for the chocolate factory bearing his namesake, was one of three opponents who put in a proposal. Finally, this potentate purchased the castle, making the Meunier family the new owners until today.
His honorable successors quickly took over the castle, converting it into a hospital during the Great War. Simone, our new female protagonist, put the family castle at the service of the country for humanitarian reasons, along with her husband. The couple paid all of the costs of transforming the castle into a fully equipped hospital to treat the sick and critically wounded of the First World War in a completely selfless manner.
Simone worked as a nurse in addition to being a hospital administrator. Her majesty, dedication, and bravery made her one of the greatest women in the castle´s history. Her deed, which was full of generosity and kindness, set an example for future generations. However, being respectful does not negate bravery or elegance... Simone was also a pioneer in the "boyish" fashion trend, which was later popularized by Coco Chanel.
The two galleries of the castle were filled with beds for hospitalized patients as the horrific conflict raged on. This fact is commemorated by a commemorative plaque positioned at the entrance to the gallery on the first level, as well as the hospital that has been reconstructed as a museum and is located in the Gallery of the Vaults, a building to the left of the castle´s exit.
But the castle´s owner´s family´s splendour does not end there... During WWII, the castle was located directly between the Nazi-occupied zone and the free zone, and the gallery on the ground floor provided access to the free zone by crossing the river. Many people took advantage of this scenario and, with the help of the castle´s then-owner, crossed the castle to escape the Nazis. Among all of these people, there were many Jews who were able to obtain their freedom in this way. Another example of the Meunier family´s incredible generosity!
SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND!
There is also room for the animal world in Chenonceau´s domains, as certain wild species reside on the grounds and are considered part of the castle´s heritage. Meeting these animals is a tremendous treat! We dare you to find one of these wild species, as well as other gems, at the Château de Chenonceau, using these lines as a guide.
A friendly mammal is the first friend we need to find. It is a huge mouse with thick grey-brown hair that prefers to live in woodland areas with water.
Because they are semi-aquatic creatures, their teeth are powerful and keen, allowing them to chop wood and use it to build their habitat on the banks of rivers. The tannin in the wood´s bark oxygenates the enamel of your teeth, causing it to turn an orange color.
It´s not a water vole, don´t worry... And, despite its common name of "swamp beaver," the creature we´re hunting for isn´t a beaver. In reality, unlike beavers, who have a flat, rudder-like tail, our companion has a long and thin tail. Let us discuss the otter!
Once you´ve gone through the castle entrance gate, look to your left for a lush woodland where we can see otters. The Cher river, on which the Château de Chenonceau is constructed, feeds a water course through this forest. We can see some massive holes excavated in the ground along the banks of this creek. They´re their burrows, after all! To watch the otters, we must be covert and be silent so that we do not scare them away or give away our presence... With any luck, we´ll be able to track down an otter!
But our search for answers doesn´t stop there... We´re now on our way to the bush labyrinth, a beautiful landscaping feature made up of yew trees pruned in a circle. Queen Catherine may have sought to reproduce her Tuscan gardens far from her homeland with this labyrinth in order to alleviate her homesickness. Will you be able to find your way to the maze´s center? A huge temple greets you at its center, from where you may enjoy a better perspective and, coincidentally, calculate your return...
The final prize we must collect is close to the labyrinth... The Caryatids are exquisite female sculptures with Greek mythological origins. They were originally erected on the castle´s façade, but were later moved to this green location, possibly to fiercely defend these gardens where the young courtesans and knights expressed their love and entertained themselves to hide... Everything makes a difference! to create a romantic as well as mystical environment!
CHENONCEAU, A GIRLS AFFAIR...
Chenonceau´s undeniable female heroines have spawned innumerable stories and legends throughout history. We´ll discover more about some of these women at this point, without whom the Château de Chenonceau would not have survived to this day...
Diana of Poitiers gave the dauphin Henry, the future king of France, a kiss on the forehead when he was six years old, moved by the boy´s kindness. It was a harmless kiss, but it left such an impression on the future monarch that, despite their twenty-year age gap, Diana became his favorite after a few years...
Diana was a stunning woman who spent a lot of money to maintain her attractiveness. She bathed in the chilly waters of the River Cher from the pier in the castle kitchens to firm up her skin´s smoothness. King Henry´s undying love for Diana endured until his death, which came after a jousting tournament in which a spear pierced Diana´s eye. Catherine reclaimed the Château de Chenonceau after the tragedy, which had been given to Diana by the king in love with her...
When Louise Dupin bought Château de Chenonceau, she transformed it into a party, concert, and theater venue. This woman mingled with the Enlightenment´s intellectual elite: writers, scientists, and famous philosophers... Rousseau was one of them, and Louise assisted her in the writing of her works. Aurora Dupin, better known as the moniker George Sand, received that aspect of a writer from her great-grandmother...
Marguerite Wilson, the castle´s penultimate owner, was a powerful woman with a large fortune. Taking advantage of her connections, she was able to arrange for the daughter of the President of the Republic to marry her brother Daniel de Ella at the Château de Chenonceau. The president and Marguerite were supposed to have had a passionate relationship in high society, but Marguerite´s husband eventually requested her divorce when he presented her with her own brother, Daniel, hers in a "ambiguous circumstance." However, Marguerite´s brother, the president´s son-in-law, would cause another crisis... Daniel took advantage of his position as a deputy and his cabinet to traffic, resulting in the president´s resignation.
DISCOVERING THE CASTLE!
So that you may get the most out of your visit to Chenoncaeu Castle, we´ll take you on a tour and unveil some of the secrets that this magnificent fortress hides.
The guard created the checkpoint and many of the castle´s valuables were guarded in the first room on the left when you entered the castle. The silverware and tableware that were stored here while the court moved from one castle to another made up the majority of this heritage.
The chapel is located in the adjacent room. Inscriptions in English from the personal guard of Marie Stuart, Queen Catherine´s daughter-in-law, can be found to your right. The chapel was used as a lumber yard during the French Revolution, which preserved it from plunder. Diana, the King´s favorite, had the next set of chambers, which included a green cabinet from which Queen Catherine ruled all of France.
A tiny corridor leads to the stairs leading to the kitchens, which used to have a jetty for receiving products and where Diana bathed in the Cher River.
The then-owner Louise received prominent encyclopedists like as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, among others, in the room to the right of the castle´s entrance. This room is connected to another by a magnificent fireplace adorned with the slogan and emblem of the castle´s founders, which reads: "If I succeed to create Chenonceau, they will remember me."
The gallery in which the hospital was situated and which, years later, was the entry to freedom for so many... is located at the bottom of the ground level...
Part of the war hospital was once housed in the first floor foyer. A wonderful balcony with views of the lovely castle gardens can be found in this hall. The chambers occupied by five queens and other royal women stand out on the opposite side of the stairs. The chambers of Queen Catherine, who was known as the "duchess" since she was the daughter of the Grand Duke of Medici from the Republic of Florence, are located next to these. The "duchess´" gender did not prevent her from becoming one of France´s most powerful monarchs.
On the second story, there is a single room dedicated to Louise, the last queen to own the Château de Chenonceau. This monarch, known as "the white queen," retired after she became a widow, devoting herself solely to prayer and reflection, and always wearing white...
THE HIDDEN NATURE
There is room for family life at Château de Chenonceau, with its greenery and charming animals, as well as splendor, chivalrous aesthetics, and pomp. And it is that, very next to the stronghold, despite being completely eclipsed by the castle´s allure, there is a magnificent universe that appears to have been plucked from a fairy tale. This almost dreamy realm may be found to the right of the walkway leading to the castle, and it may easily go overlooked due to the monument´s beauty... It´s the Huerta de las Flores, which we may reach from a meadow adjacent to the castle´s fence entry.
It´s unexpected to come upon an orchard with hundreds of plants and legumes, as well as a collection of unusual and exotic flowers that form a stunning display of vibrant hues. Everything is done with great attention and taste. The species are framed and defined by rosebushes with the name of a queen, as well as apple trees carved to grow horizontally (seeing is believing!). We wouldn´t know they were apple trees if it weren´t for the fruit that gives them away...
We will locate the rhubarb among the many kinds cultivated in these gardens, a plant that will be known to anybody who has ever visited England, since it is frequently employed in the manufacture of jams and cakes there. Rhubarb is one of the many surprises buried in these gardens, which are full of beauty and joy and are used for more than just aesthetics, as their crops are served at the castle restaurant.
And you want to see bees without disturbing them? If you answered yes, don´t forget to make your way over to the beehive on the opposite side of the garden... Another hidden gem!
There is an arched entryway in a wall near the end of these gardens. Crossing its doorway, on the other hand, is like entering a fascinating universe, a journey into the past... We shall be immersed in an actual historical farmhouse with amazing architecture as a result of this. Discovering its collection of carriages, as well as the Rolls Royce and Bentley that await us parked in the former royal stables, is an unforgettable experience. The floral workshop, which is considered unique in all of France and boasts the experience of craftsmen who are the magical creators of this fantasy environment, is located in the center.
We can´t end this section without telling you about the real stars of the show... some hairy and obstinate quadrupeds, with a sluggish demeanor and unusual names! And it´s odd that we come into donkeys instead of sentinels or armored knights in a castle...
Château de Chenonceau
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