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Nestled in the heart of the Loire Valley France, the Château de Chenonceau is a true architectural masterpiece that will leave you breathless. Built over the tranquil waters of the River Cher, this elegant castle with its stunning arches and towers is considered one of the most beautiful castles in France.
The Château de Chenonceau is often referred to as the “Château des Dames” or “Ladies’ Castle” because of the significant role that women played in its history. Undeniably when visiting, feminine energy and elegance are palpable throughout the castle.
The Château de Chenonceau first opened to visitors in 1913 and today is one of the most visited chateaus in France.
The Château de Chenonceau: Practicalities
Where Is Château de Chenonceau?
The Château de Chenonceau is located in the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire department of the Centre-Val de Loire region of France. The Château de Chenonceau is located 133 miles (214 km) from Paris and 21 miles (34 km) from Tours.
Cost To Enter
It is mandatory to book an entry ticket in advance. 15.50€ per adult; Audio guides are available in French, English, Spanish, German and Italian for €4. Buy your skip-the-line ticket.
What Days Of The Year Is The Castle Open?
The Château de Chenonceau is open every day of the year.
Château de Chenonceau Opening Hours
In July and August, the castle is open from 9 am to 7 pm. Check the website for other months of the year.
Hotels Near Château de Chenonceau
This 3-star hotel has superb reviews and is 0.4 mi (700 m) from the Château de Chenonceau. This hotel is located in a château and is 3.7 mi (6 km) from the Château de Chenonceau.
Staying in Amboise is also an option when visiting the Château de Chenonceau. This 4-star manor is in Amboise.
Getting To The Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau From Paris By Train:
From Paris, trains leave from Gare Montparnasse to St-Pierre-des Corps, the station at Tours. Switch in Tours for the train to Chenonceaux. The train station in Chenonceaux is 0.6 miles (400 metres) from the castle entrance. Buy your train ticket here.
The TGV train trip from Paris to St-Pierre-des-Corps is one hour. The TER (regional train) from Tours to Chenonceaux is 25 minutes. When planning your visit, don’t forget to allow time for switching trains.
From Paris: take autoroute A10 and take either the exit for Blois or Amboise. The trip takes 2h 40 min depending on traffic.
Rent your car for a Loire Valley expedition
Don’t forget that there are 559 mi (900 km) of bike routes in the Loire Valley. From your base in the Loire Valley, cycle to the Château de Chenonceau.
Guided Day Tours From Paris To The Loire Valley
Take all the worries out of planning a day trip and join this full-day guided Châteaux tour from Paris which includes the Château de Chenonceau. This is a small group tour and this day trip from Paris includes wine tasting!
This might be exactly how to visit the castle: Private Guided Tour of the Château de Chenonceau
Guided Tours From Tours or Amboise to the Loire Valley Castles: A half-day tour to the Château de Chenonceau, a full-day trip to Chambord and Chenonceau.
Is There Somewhere To Eat?
“Le Snack,” which serves both hot and cold dishes, is open every day from 9:30 to 18:30. Sit at one of the outside tables and enjoy! On my last visit in November, this was a great place to have lunch (right at the château) and then head off to the Château d’Amboise.
How about bringing a picnic? There are plenty of picnic tables and places to lay out a blanket.
How Long Should We Spend At The Castle?
I would recommend spending a minimum of 2 hours. Leave ample time to marvel at the arches over the River Cher and admire both the exterior and interior of the castle. Factor in time to visit the gardens and maze.
Why Is The Château de Chenonceau Known As The “Château de Dames?”
I love the fact that ladies have played such a large role in the evolution and history of the Château de Chenonceau, the “Ladies Castle.” Here is a brief introduction to six important women in the castle’s history.
The first notable woman associated with the Ladies Castle was Katherine Briçonnet. Married to Thomas Bohier, she oversaw the construction of the original château from 1513-1517.
Diane de Poitiers
Later, Diane de Poitiers, King Henry II’s mistress, was gifted the château by the King. She made significant improvements to Château de Chenonceau’s design, including the addition of the arched bridge over the River Cher.
Catherine de’ Medici
After King Henry II’s death, his wife Catherine de’ Medici forced Diane de Poitiers to exchange Chenonceau for the Château de Chaumont. Catherine de’ Medici made further improvements to the château, including the addition of the gallery on the bridge, which was used for hosting lavish parties and events.
Louise of Lorraine
Louise of Lorraine inherited the Château de Chenonceau from her mother-in-law Catherine de’ Medici. When her husband Henri III was assassinated in 1589, she decorated her bedroom in black and wore white, the traditional mourning colour of French queens.
Another significant woman in the history of Chenonceau Castle is Madame Louise Dupin who owned the castle along with her wealthy husband in the 18th century. She welcomed famous writers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and, Montesquieu in her literary salon. It is said that her strong relationship with the villagers saved the Château de Chenonceau from being destroyed in the French Revolution.
The Menier Family (Menier Chocolates) purchased the castle in 1913 and saw it through both World Wars. During World War I, the castle was used as a hospital. Simone Menier was in charge of the hospital that was in the castle’s gallery. More than 2000 soldiers were cared for here. During World War II, the Château de Chenonceau was a border crossing between Nazi-occupied France and the Free Zone.
The Exterior Of The Château de Chenonceau
It is a breathtaking sight to witness the Château’s long gallery that stretches over the river Cher.
The exterior of the château is characterized by its towers and turrets, which give the structure a fairytale-like appearance. The towers are topped with pointed roofs and decorated with ornate carvings and sculptures.
Photographers will love playing with the different angles and reflections of the castle in the water. Depending on the time of year, the water levels will vary giving the castle a different appearance.
The interior is equally as impressive, with its richly furnished rooms and intricate tapestries that transport you back in time. The bedrooms, the chapel, and the library are all magnificent but the crowning glory of the interior of the Château de Chenonceau is the Gallery. It is the most distinctive and impressive feature of the estate. Its length of 66 yards (60 m) with its white walls, black and white slate floor and 18 arched windows are breathtaking. It’s light, airy, and flowy! It’s easy to imagine luxurious balls being hosted here and also hospital beds from WWI.
The kitchen of the Château de Chenonceau is one of the highlights of the castle. It is located on the lower level and dates back to the 16th century. As you enter, you can immediately feel the rustic charm of the space with its stone walls and the large fireplace. The kitchen has been meticulously restored and features an impressive array of copper pots, pans, and cooking utensils hanging from the ceiling. It’s easy to imagine the castle’s chefs bustling around this space, preparing lavish feasts for the nobility.
The Lovely Gardens
One of the must-see highlights of Château de Chenonceau is its stunning gardens. The estate has a vast array of well-manicured gardens with multiple themes, including the Catherine de’ Medici garden, the Diane de Poitiers garden, and the vegetable garden. The gardens have been restored to their original grandeur and provide a peaceful and serene ambience.
The maze is made up of more than 2,000 yew trees and was designed in the classical style. The yew trees are trimmed and maintained to create winding pathways and low walls that visitors must navigate to reach the centre of the maze. At the centre of the maze is a small raised pavilion that provides a panoramic view of the entire garden.
And Don’t Miss…
Don’t miss the 16th-century farm, the Queen’s Apothecary (Catherine de’ Medici), The Domes Wine Cellar
I hope you enjoy visiting the magnificent Château Chenonceau as much as I did.
Until next time,
More Travel Info…
Resources For Travelling France:
Here are my most popular Paris resources: 25 Essential Paris Travel Tips. If you like getting off the beaten path, here are 25 hidden gems in Paris. Really want to explore secret Paris? There are over 60 secret spots in my eBook, Paris for the Curious Stroller. Uncover Paris right here.
More French Castles:
You may want to visit Chambord in the Loire Valley, Chaumont-sur-Loire in the Loire Valley and the Château de Brissac, a family-owned castle. And don’t miss the stunning Azay-le-Rideau!
Chantilly is the perfect day trip from Paris.
Versailles, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most famous of French castles is also just a day trip from Paris.
Other Regions In France:
Normandy is another beloved region of France for locals and visitors alike. Read 19 Wonderful Things To Do in Normandy France to help you plan your itinerary in this region.
Brittany France is on many people’s France Bucket List! Here are 13 Reasons to Fall in Love with Brittany France.
Provence is always a winner. Follow this 7-day itinerary for a great trip.
The Dordogne Valley is a little less-discovered and a fabulous region to plan a holiday.
And a trip to le Pays Basque is never a bad idea! Start here in Biarritz.