Sitting aside and crossing the Le Cher River, the Château of Chenonceaux is easily one of the greatest achievements of humans carefully adapting the built environment with the natural environment.
Instead of trampling on the natural world, the renovation of what had been an old Medieval fortress was transformed into a residence that worked with the nearby river.
The “bridge” portion of the château above functions as such, allowing the crossing of the river, but it possesses two long galleries, which we’ll look at more closely later.
The actual “keep” of the compound is relatively small (and by the time we arrived in the mid-afternoon, extremely crowded), and there was at one point a plan for a gigantic, fan-shaped addition that would have expanded out from where the photo below was taken.
For whatever reason, a lone tower from the original fortress is still standing, giving an impression of the now largely vanished predecessor.
Also, always be suspicious of what you’re looking at in modern day France! There were massive renovations and adaptations to many French monuments in the Nineteenth Century. The front façade is not the original one below, which once featured caryatids. It’s a long story…
The grounds are exquisite, even if they are not huge. Catherine de Medici lived here and apparently dabbled in the occult with a friend. One of the gardens is named after her, and another is named after Diana, the goddess of hunting, a common trope in château grounds which were deep forests used for the capture of wild game.
The first floor gallery over the river is relatively plain but elegant. The white and black checkered floor is in a million homes around the world.
The influence of Italy is evident in this heavy lintel over the door.
Captive barbarians and trophies go back to the Romans.
Not surprisingly, the views out the windows of the bridge gallery are wonderful.
The Garden of Diana below was bedecked in the colors of the late summer.
There was a small moat separating the garden from the main building.
The Garden of Catherine de Medici was also very beautiful. The influence of French garden design on the United States is still present today.
Jumping around, here we are back to the Garden of Diana.
Here is an auxiliary building next to the garden.
The property is still privately owned and they even produce their own wine, which is kept in cellars beneath this building.
There are also still farm buildings present further from the river.
A beautiful allee of trees leads back to the parking lot before we leave.