Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Come stroll with me …

… through some more history from château Chenonceau.  Last month I left you in the fabulous gallery that stretched across the river, Cher.  Follow me …

Leaving the gallery behind I want to take you down into the heart of this house – the kitchens.  Here banquets would be prepared for kings and nobles and for those attending the many parties that Catherine de Medici enjoyed.  But at this level of the building, you are just above the water line of the river and there is provision for goods to be delivered straight to the kitchens by boat.  And, under cover of darkness, it is also possible that people might have been whisked away by similar transport.  And yes that possibility of a plot surrounding a quirk of history is still running around at the back of my head!
Coming back up into the main body of the
château we can see the magnificence of some of the rooms.  Like this one said to be used by Diane de Poitiers.  The fireplace surround is ostentatious in its symbolism.  The lettering of H and C refers to Henri 2 and Catherine.  She clearly wanted no references to her husband’s other woman!
There are numerous rooms all in the gothic style and as beautifully decorated as this one.  The walls are full of tapestries and paintings.  One room, funereal in appearance, is a re-creation of the actual décor that covered the walls of the chamber of Louise of Lorraine, the wife of Henri 3.  It was originally created for the then-royal widow of the king.
We will leave these fabulous rooms and head outside.  The gardens were the brainchild of Diane de Poitiers before she was ousted by Catherine de Medici and relegated to the château in Chaumont.  Diane engaged the services of a garden designer – but who that was, I don’t know.  The time for my research whilst I was there was short and I never came across that little detail.  But, looking outward towards other residences in the area such as Amboise and Blois, the influence of Pacello da Mercogliano (1455 – 1534) can be seen.  Of course, by the time Diane de Poitiers was thinking about her gardens, Mercogliano was long dead.  But it was not unusual at that time for the king to move his court every so often.  I suppose the old maxim of keeping one's friend's close but enemies closer still was perhaps more pertinent back then!   
However, the carefully planned and planted parterres are excellent examples of what was considered then to be the French formal garden, for which Mercogliano is said to be one of the earliest founding fathers.
The gardens stretch out on both sides of the residence.  And if you choose your timing carefully you can wander in the shade for a good deal of the time.  You also need to choose your season carefully, too.  It’s late September and I’m seeing a mature garden in its final throw of colour before dying back for winter.  I’m just really glad I don’t have to prune all that topiary!

You can read my previous post from château Chenonceau Here. If you enjoyed those two posts, you might also enjoy reading about my visits to the châteaux in Blois  Ancy-le-Franc or Tanlay