Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chenonceau castle - between myth and reality

When searching on internet information about the Chenonceau castle, one of the jewels of the French Loire valley, you normally get amazing pictures of a beautiful and shining castle spreading its wing, which dates from the 16th century, over the old river  shaped as a bridge. Well, believe it or not, they are 70% photoshoped. The shape is real but the difference between pictures and reality is huge!

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy visiting the château; I surely did, having the chance to rediscover already forgotten paths that remind me of Catherine or Louise. But in terms of aspect, it is the first castle in France that somehow disappointed me. I know, you would say that such an old construction can hardly be shiny and accurate, but why does it look so on postcards and google? Why create a fairy tale image which is not quite realistic? I would have accepted it  anyway.
This time I will spare you from any long stories, unlike previously, just let me mention why Chenonceau is significant à mon avis: I don’t care that it belonged to Diane de Poitiers, I never really liked mistresses, I would rather much care for Catherine of Medicis taking it back and making it her favorite residence for several years (although I doubt she spent too much time here). It has been the setting for some major happy reunions of the Valois family of which two are worth mentioning - 1560 (François II’s ascension to the throne) and 1577 (famous ball offered by Henri III to his subjects).
The castle was later on inherited by Queen Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont, who used it as a place of mourning and praying after the tragic news of her husband’s violent death in 1589.
Chenonceau became a private residence in the 17th century and so it is nowadays, with the exception of the WWI period when the location served as a hospital.
The Marques tower, so called “donjon”, is the only trace of what used to be Chenonceau before Renaissance, dating from the 13th century, quite impressive and outstanding for its age!
I particularly enjoyed the 16th century farm nearby, with real vegetables, pastures and animals! 

More photos of Chenonceau here


Post a Comment