Ever since I started studying French, I have always had a sentimental fondness for Château de Chenonceau.
I remember the posters of different castles hanging in French classrooms, the cultural lessons and the photos in textbooks. I even remember watching one video during French class that took place at Château de Chenonceau—it was one of those hokey educational videos that accompanied textbook questions. The one line I can clearly remember is “Il est disparu!”
While visiting my boyfriend’s hometown in the Loire Valley for the weekend, we took a spontaneous trip to Château de Chenonceau.
As you can imagine, the textbook pictures didn’t do the place any justice.
One of the many things I loved about visiting Château de Chenonceau was how there were fresh floral arrangements throughout different parts of the castle. I think the flowers serve these historic spaces well and bring some life to the rooms that are otherwise frozen in time.
As you can tell, it was hard for me to pass up photographing the different views from the windows…
There is a lot of history behind the construction and ownership of Château de Chenonceau, but it is widely known that Catherine de Medicis is responsible for the castle’s structure we now see today—the two grand halls that span across Le Cher river offer incredible views of the estate.
We only spent a short afternoon taking a tour of the Château de Chenonceau and its grounds, but visitors could easily spend a full day or a weekend in the area. Aside from the actual château and its gardens, there is also a tea room, a restaurant, a wine cellar and open areas for visitors to have picnics.
For 4 euros each, we opted to do a wine tasting in the chateau’s historic cellar, Cave des Dômes. The wines we tried were from the local region of Chenonceau-Tourraine. I can’t say that I’m a wine expert, but my boyfriend was impressed enough by the selections we tried and bought a few bottles.
If you’re looking to visit Château de Chenonceau, it is very easy to get there by train—the SNCF stop isn’t even a 3-minute walk away from the castle’s entrance and the surrounding village that has shops, hotels, and gastronomic restaurants. If you decide to drive, there is plenty of visitor parking available at the château.
There are many other castles to visit in that area of the Loire Valley, so it’s understandable why tourists would want to travel the area over an extended period of time beyond a weekend.
Here’s a selection of the French Châteaus in the Loire Valley that are in close proximity to Château de Chenonceau—
Approximately 20 minutes away from Chenonceau:
- Château du Clos Lucé- the official residence of Leonardo Da Vinci between 1516-1519
- Château Royal d’Amboise- royal residence in the city of Amboise
Château de Montpoupon- a castle built under Charlemagne
Approximately 30 minutes away from Chenonceau:
- Château de Candé
Château de Chaumont
Approximately 60 minutes or less away from Chenonceau:
- Château de Blois
- Château de Chambord
If you want to learn more about the châteaus in the Loire Valley region, visit Le Val de Loire website.