Chenonceau Castle in France

Tourists should know: The Ladies' Chateau

French castle, Château de Chenonceau, spans the Cher River in the Indre-et-Loire region of the Centre-Val de Loire. French pronunciation: [to dnso]. One of the most well-known châteaux in the Loire Valley is this one.

The 11th century is when Chenonceau’s domain is first referenced in writing. On the remains of an earlier mill, the current château was constructed between 1514 and 1522, and it was later expanded to bridge the river. The gallery on the bridge was constructed between 1570 and 1576 to plans by Jean Bullant, and the bridge itself was constructed between 1556 and 1559 to the specifications of French Renaissance architect Philibert de l’Orme.

The public is welcome to see Château de Chenonceau and its gardens, which feature a late Gothic and early Renaissance architectural fusion. It is France’s most popular château, outside of the Royal Palace of Versailles.

The French Ministry of Culture has designated the château as a Historical Monument since 1840. Today, Chenonceau is a popular tourist destination and welcomed almost 800,000 tourists in 2007.

The Ladies’ Chateau, Chenonceau, has a fascinating past as a royal house in the Loire and a major political hub for the Kingdom of France in the sixteenth century. At the beginning of 2013, the charming Château de Chenonceau commemorated its 500th birthday officially.

Top-View of Chenonceau Castle
Top-View of Chenonceau Castle

The History of Chenonceau Castle in France

The Marques household

The Marques family owned the fief of Chenonceau in the thirteenth century. In order to punish the owner, Jean Marques, for engaging in insurrection, the old château was set on fire in 1412. In the 1430s, he rebuilt a château and a fortified mill there. Pierre Marques, the indebted successor of Jean Marques, was compelled to sell.

The castle was acquired from Pierre Marques in 1513 by Thomas Bohier, Chamberlain to King Charles VIII of France, who destroyed most of it (resulting in 2013 being designated the 500th anniversary of the castle: MDXIII-MMXIII), while its 15th-century keep was left standing. Bohier constructed a brand-new home between 1515 and 1521. His wife Katherine Briçonnetoversaw the project and took great pleasure in entertaining French nobles, including King Francis I, twice.

Due to outstanding debts to the Crown, King Francis I of France took the château away from Bohier’s son in 1535. Following Francis’ passing in 1547, Henry II gave the manor to Diane de Poitiers, his mistress, as a gift. Diane developed a strong attachment to the riverside manor. She gave Philibert de l’Orme the construction of the arched bridge that connects the château to the other side in 1555. Then, under Diane’s direction, a sizable flower and vegetable garden, as well as numerous fruit trees, were planted.

The Marques household
The Marques household

The French Revolution spared Chenonceau, but why?

As part of a debt settlement, King Francis, I included it in the Crown Estate in 1535. Later, King Henry II decided to provide Diane de Poitiers, his favorite, “in full right of ownership, seisin and possession, totally, peacefully and eternally, to dispose of as her own and real property,” as opposed to the Queen. The French Revolution has avoided two centuries later thanks to Chenonceau’s artificial removal from Crown Lands.

The young monarch, her son, was promptly installed as ruler at Chenonceau by Queen Catherine de Medici, the widow of King Henry II, on July 10, 1559, amid Italian pomp and circumstance. She managed the Kingdom of France from her study, the Green Cabinet, while also hosting events here. After becoming a widow, herself, her daughter-in-law Louise de Lorraine, the wife of King Henry III, moved into the château to mourn.

The most outstanding intellectuals, philosophers, and academicians in France were welcomed to Chenonceau in the 18th century by Louise Dupin, a lady of the Enlightenment, to her renowned literary salon after her husband had purchased the château. With the help of her secretary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who had a time of tranquil contentment at Chenonceau that is documented in many of his works, this unique woman was the first to establish a Code of Women’s Rights.

Finally, the château served as the setting for Madame Pelouze’s prosperity in the 19th century before a financial scandal brought her down. And the resignation of Jules Grévy, the fourth president of the French Republic, due to the embezzlement case involving his son-in-law Daniel Wilson, Madame Pelouze’s brother. In 1913, Henri Menier bought the château from Crédit Foncier. After his death, Chenonceau was converted into a military hospital for the length of the Great War by his brother Gaston, a progressive deputy and subsequently senator. As he did in Noisiel, the location of the Menier chocolate plant, where he established a second hospital, he covered all operating expenses.

Chenonceau Castle View
Chenonceau Castle View

The military clinic

The Château de Chenonceau was used as a military hospital between 1914 and 1918. This special area in the “Gallery of Domes” honors the remembrance of everyone who contributed to the care of more than 2,250 injured during the entire four-year Great War.

The owner of Chenonceau at the time, Seine-et-Marne senator Gaston Menier, chose to support the war effort by donating the necessary funds to the Ministry of War in order to establish a temporary military hospital there.

In the two galleries above the Cher, 120 beds have been erected. An extremely effective operating room with one of the first X-ray machines was located on the ground floor. Up to the hospital’s closing, her lovely daughter Simone Menier—the wife of her son George and a staff nurse—managed the facility by caring for the injured and working closely with the local medical professionals.

Chenonceau Castle, France
Chenonceau Castle, France

Why was Chenonceau’s Grand Gallery significant?

The Menier family assisted in smuggling out those who were fleeing the Nazi tyranny when Chenonceau’s Grand Gallery became the only point of entry to the free zone during the Second World War. When visiting France for the first time, US president Harry Truman stopped at the château.

Why is Chenonceau Castle known as strong women?

The Ladies’ castle is another name for the Chateau de Chenonceau. This is partially due to the fact that the castle was renovated by women who owned it in more significant numbers than by males. Bohier’s wife Katherine managed the majority of the Chateau’s construction because her husband was overseas fighting battles.

Chenonceau Castle Outlook
Chenonceau Castle Outlook

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