Loire Valley | Château de Chenonceau

Our view from a rental paddle boat out on the river

While we had family visiting back in August (read about our Normandy trip here), we made an overnight trip to the Loire Valley. It was a little over a 2 hour drive from Paris to our first destination, the Chateau de Chenonceau.

There was a large forest in front of the castle with a lovely maze and beautiful architecture.

When we had originally started looking into the Loire Valley, I knew that I wanted to visit this particular chateau as soon as I saw it. It was breathtaking and had an interesting history as well.

It originally belonged to the Marques family in the 1300’s, but they sold it in 1430 to Thomas Bohier. By the mid 1500’s, the chateau had been taken by King Francis I due to unpaid debts.

Later, Henry II gave the chateau to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. She oversaw the addition of the bridge to the other side of the riverbank and also added some of the beautiful gardens.

Naturally, the King’s wife, Catherine, was a bit upset/jealous over the whole thing (can you blame her though?) and eventually gained possession over the chateau after the King’s death. She made the bridge into a long gallery that would be used for balls and other entertaining for her guests. She also added to the gardens and oversaw the first ever fireworks display in France in 1560.

From there, it continued getting passed down until finally the Menier family acquired the chateau in 1913. They still own it today. Interesting fact: in World War I, the long gallery was used as a hospital ward.

We rented one of these boats for a nice paddle around the river and chateau

We had a great visit. One thing that we did that was my favorite was renting a paddle boat and taking it out on the river around the chateau. It was something like 5-7 euros per boat. We all got lifejackets and I held Adeline in my lap while one arm was around London next to me. Aaron paddled. It was a bit crazy, but fun and London loved it. She didn’t want to get off the boat and kept asking for us to go around the castle again.

My husband was nice enough to paddle far enough away so that I could take a picture of the chateau over the river. We also took the boat under the bridge, which was awesome. I would definitely recommend renting a boat during your visit!

Front entrance to the chateau

Above, is the only original part of the chateau (from when the Marques’ owned it during the 1300’s).

Part of Catherine’s garden
On the boat, coming out from under the bridge
The long gallery on top of the bridge

The inside of the chateau was gorgeous! Unfortunately, like most historical places in France, it was not at all stroller friendly. Luckily, Aaron’s parents took the girls into the gardens for us so that Aaron and I could quickly take a peek inside.

Where the servants enjoyed eating their meals
The kitchen was gorgeous, of course. Tons of copper pots and pans hanging down. Even the servants’ eating quarters were nice. We had a nice time looking into all of the rooms. The chateau offers audio guides when you pay to come in and I highly recommend taking advantage of it. There is a lot of history in this castle and it was nice hearing about it as we walked through.
If you look closely, you can see my mother-in-law walking with London in one corner while my father-in-law is pushing Adeline in her stroller…
Tickets were 12.50 euros per person (17 euros for an audio guide ticket) and children under 7 are free. The chateau is open year round (although hours of operation vary depending on the time of the year). For more information on rates and hours, please visit: http://chenonceau.tickeasy.com/Information.aspx.
 
A view of the chateau from inside Catherine’s gardens
London loved all the flowers

The Chateau de Chenonceau is a beautiful place to visit while in France. With it being only 2 hours from Paris, I highly recommend visiting it or other chateaus in the Loire Valley.

For more information, please visit:
http://www.chenonceau.com/
https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/video/tv-show/season-8/frances-loire-chateau-country
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chenonceau

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4 thoughts on “Loire Valley | Château de Chenonceau

    1. Yes, you totally should! We loved our visit. The gardens were great for our toddler to run around in and for our baby to nap in the stroller. Definitely a must see for the Loire Valley. Have a great time if you make it out there! 🙂

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