“Did you read any of the plaques?” was the response from our other halves as they greet us outside the main building of the Chateau de Chenonceau. We had managed to whizz around the inside in a little over an hour with them trailing at least half an hour behind us, I guess it was pretty obvious we hadn’t really read the plagues. With only the little brochure we have received upon purchasing our tickets, we had been far too busy taking photos to really read about the history. After all, I’d only wanted to visit for one reason; to photograph everything.
Don’t get me wrong I’m sure the history about every chateau in this incredible part of France is fascinating but there is only so much my little brain can take in. That brochure certainly filled the quota for the day. From the little entrance in the kitchen for food to be brought in through to the room painted all in black during a period of mourning. There were so many interesting facts I was glad to learn as we weaved our way in and out of these immense rooms. I had just one problem with it all; the sheer amount of other tourists I was surrounded by.
Anyone who has met me will know I’m not very big, something I find extremely frustrating when having to deal with large crowds. I find myself with an armpit in my nose or an elbow to the cheek, neither are a good thing. Furthermore I’m far to polite and British and as we snaked our way around the castle we kept getting barged by not so British and far less polite people. All this being said, as we were sitting outside the castle waiting for our other halves to emerge from the crowds, I felt the weight lift from my shoulders. Once outside of the chateau I could breathe again and really began to take in the beauty of this incredible building.
I think the Chateau de Chenonceau was mean’t to be enjoyed from afar instead of being crushed up to other sweaty bodies trying to sneak a look at these ancient rooms.
For those of you who don’t know, the Chateau de Chenonceau was built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet. It has since been protected by women throughout war and conflict. As you wander these great rooms still in their original design you will recognise a feminine feel throughout. Each room is home to original furniture and decorations making it that bit more special. Many of the rooms and layouts are as they would have been all those years ago and you’ll even find exquisite tapestry from the 16th century on display. I was most taken by the stupendous flower arrangements presents in many of the rooms, these were totally real (we checked) and not a flower looked out of place.
It wasn’t just the flowers inside that were impressive, the gardens outside spread across vast amounts of the property and again all looked perfect. There are two adjacent gardens outside of the castle but it was Diane’s Garden which captured us the most. The layout has remained the same as when it was first planted and the fountain in the middle is the garden’s original. Wandering around the fountain as the breeze blew a mist of water at us was oh so refreshing. I should also mention the views from the far end of this garden because they really are worth a peek. From here you will get the furthest view of the castle building itself.
There is still more to this incredible chateau and grounds, with numerous gardens, a hedge maze and tea rooms all open to the public. The tea rooms is housed in the orangierie building which originally would have housed the lemon and orange plants during the winter. Although we didn’t visit inside, I can only imagine how grand it would have been.
Essential Information for visiting the Chateau de Chenonceau
The Chateau de Chenonceau is best reached by car as there is a large, free car park available for visitors. You can also reach it by train from Tours using the TER regional service. More information on access can be found here.
Ticket prices vary (depending whether you would like an audio guide)
With an audio guide 17€
Without an audio guide 12,50€ (or 9,50€ if like me you are a student – you’ll need evidence so just take your university ID with you.)
Opening times also vary depending on the season, during winter they open from 9.30 am – 5 pm however in mid-summer hours increase to 9 am – 8 pm, all the details can be found here.
TIP: Arrive at opening time, as we left at 12pm there was a queue to get inside the castle – something we didn’t experience at 10am when we arrived. However even at 10am inside the castle was packed so the earlier the better.
TIP 2: Allow at least three hours for a visit, we whizzed around in just over two hours but ended up skipping some of the gardens because we didn’t have time.