So, Andrew has his medieval castles, and apparently I have Renaissance style châteaux (did you know the plural of “château” has an x on the end? The things you learn!!). I love them. Strategically, or defensively, their pure extravagant beauty is rendered useless, but they are magnificent just the same.
Today we visited two châteaux, the first being Château de Chenonceau. There is so much to love about this building. Catherine de’ Medici, a primary figure in French monarchical history, lived here, after forcing out her deceased husband’s favourite mistress. All of the modifications this mistress made to the building, Catherine went on to improve, make bigger, or build a “better” version of it else where on the property; as is the case with the gardens, and the grand halls built on top of Diane’s meager bridge (Catherine de’ Medici was from Florence, which we guess is why the bridge with buildings on it looks similar to the old bridge there…). Perhaps the expression “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” was penned after Catherine de’Medici!
Madame Dupin, who also lived in this château, did so at the time of the revolution, but because she was so intelligent, kind and generous, she was allowed to remain in the château and lived to be 93 years of age!
The château itself is built over the River Cher, as if on a bridge, with perfect gardens, a maze, and all the glamour of the height of the French aristocracy.
We also payed a visit to Azay-le-Rideau Château. I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to live in these places! We had the opportunity to visit the recently opened attic of the building, which was really interesting given the nature of the French roofing. I don’t know much at all about these things, but it was pitched so high with numerous levels of beams, not like any roofs we have at home. Grand parlors for receiving guests, staircases, immaculate ceilings, and a section of water still enough so as to create a mirror like section of water.
Azay-le-Rideau Château was also kind enough to allow us to sit on the grass of the English style gardens to enjoy our picnic. Perfect.
I think I just might retire to a French Château after all, just like Drew and Sam Berry have planned for all these years.