Leaving the Loire River for the day, we head south to the Cher River. Following one of the châteaux cycling routes, we toured Château Chenonceau, which oddly enough is in the town of Chenonceaux. I wonder why the château and the town names are not spelled the same. I have yet to find the answer to this question.
This château was built in the 16th century and is the loveliest of the châteaux we have seen. It is unique in that part of the château actually sits over the Cher River, supported by six arches. Architecturally, it is quite unique, and certainly beautiful.
Dennis was commenting yesterday that the daily life of the château isn’t evident when touring them. Where were the kitchens? Where did the staff live? How did they function, serving such large groups of people? Some of these questions were answered today, at least as they pertained to this château. Visitors can tour the kitchens and the staff quarters, which were furnished to depict life in the days when they were functional dwellings. Our tour of the grounds also included the vegetable gardens and the stables that supported the château.
It was also interesting to me to read the history of the ownership of the château. It was given by King Henry II in 1547 to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. In the information leaflet provided, she is described as “his favourite lady” rather than his mistress. I find this coy phrasing quite unexpected, especially for the French, who have the reputation of being quite comfortable the notion of men, particularly ones of wealth and position, maintaining mistresses.
In the afternoon, we rode back to the Loire River, crossing through wine growing areas, and into Tours. The largest city in the area, it is a busy university city, with an exciting vibe. There is an interesting contrast between the historic and the modern in Tours.
Here’s today’s instalment of silly tourist photos.
September 23, 2014 at 8:45 am
What a beautiful place! I’m green with envy. Here’s the Wikipedia answer to your question about the difference in spellings between the town and the chateau.
The difference in spelling between the Château’s name (Chenonceau) and the village (Chenonceaux) is attributed to Louise Dupin de Francueil, owner of the chateau during the French Revolution, who is said to have dropped the “x” at the end of its name to differentiate what was a symbol of royalty from the Republic. As a result of her good relations with the village, the Chateau was spared the iconoclastic damage suffered by many other monuments during the Revolution. Although no official sources have been found to support this claim, the Château has ever since been referred to and spelled as Chenonceau. Mme Dupin hosted the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Chenonceau as tutor to her children, and among her descendants was the writer Georges Sand, born Aurore Dupin.
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September 23, 2014 at 9:16 am
You’re the best, Alvin. Would you like to sign on as my official research assistance? By the time I get around to writing my blog, I am weary from a busy day and some things are just too much trouble to find. P.S. George Sand is a women. They had a piece about her in some of the documentation at the château.
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