2022 – France – Day 7

Wednesday August 31st

We went to Château Chenonceau (note: no ‘x’ at the end; very significant). It’s in the city of Chenonceaux (with an ‘x’). The first iteration of the château was built by Francis I, the same king who built Chambord. The original château– more of a fort, actually– was torn down, except for one of its 4 towers. That became the servants’ quarters for the new and vastly more elegant château that was built standing in the Cher River. Its location enabled the château owners to collect tariffs on all river traffic, and consequently the château was very profitable to whoever owned it.

And that’s an interesting aspect of the ownership of Chenonceau. Most of the owners were women, and most of them were either wives or concubines of the French king. And all of them were very successful managers of a highly profitable business.

This building was almost the polar opposite of Chambord. That château was mostly empty. When the king left for another royal château, he took all of his furniture with him. But Chenonceau is very different. It is beautifully decorated. And it isn’t just tapestries, though Chenonceau does have a lot of tapestries. The ceilings are gorgeous– and they’re all different. Some are covered with tiles, each of them hand painted, some are made of covered and beautifully decorated beams. Some of the floors are made of tile, some of parquet, some of brick. Some of the rooms have wallpaper (couldn’t tell how old), and the “White Queen’s” bedroom walls are all black with hand painted white feathers and vines. (Her husband, Henry III, died in jousting games, so she wore white– the color of mourning– for the rest of her life.)

And the rooms are all furnished with beds and chairs that date to the 16th and 17th centuries. Chenonceau is not as impressive, or as large, as Chambord, but it’s much more elegant inside.

BTW a drawing room is actually a withdrawing room, not a room where one spends one’s time drawing pictures.

Here’s the exterior of Chenonceau. The tower on the left is the only part that remains of the original structure:

Another view of the exterior, showing that it is actually built right over the Cher river:

The chapel of Chenonceau– a much more elaborate and elegant room than that of Chambord:

One of many beautifully appointed rooms in Chenonceau– check out the ceiling:

The kitchen:

Another view of the kitchen:

King Louis XIV’s “Drawing” room:

Another furnished room:

Another bedroom with yet another very different ceiling:

The “White Queen’s” bedroom– note that the walls are all black:

A chest of drawers in the White Queen’s bedroom– note the wallpaper:

Yet another lovely bedroom with yet another completely different type of ceiling decoration:

After the château we drove to Amboise, a small village on the Loire River. The mighty Loire river couldn’t be more than 5 feet deep.

Jackie was still recovering from allergies, so she took a nap that afternoon while I walked around the city of Amboise. It’s small but charming. Once Jackie was ready we went out for dinner and had a wonderful evening of shopping and crêpes. Jackie said she wants to learn how to make crêpes when we get back.

Bronze sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in Amboise during the last years of his life:

View of the city of Amboise, from the north shore of the Loire river:

A shopping district in Amboise, just a block or so from our hotel: