Thursday, 14 August 2014

Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire

Recently, we had a super time at Chaumont and only scratched the surface. There was plenty we didn't get around to seeing. We did, however, mange to have a good look at the chateau proper and a bit of the parc as well as the show gardens. The chateau sits on a lovely spot, atop a bluff overlooking the river Loire. Due to the mix of medieval towers and Renaissance additions it has, we think, elements of a 'fairy-tale castle'.
'Fairy-tale castle'
There's been a fortified building on the site since about the year 1000. At that time, Eudes 1er, Count of Blois decided to build a fortress as the location was on his border with the Count of Anjou, Fulke Nerra [we've written about him before here and here]. From a strategic point of view the location was excellent as the two of them were regularly in dispute. About fifty years later Chaumont became part of the holdings of the d'Amboise family and they held it for the next 500 years.
Great mix of medieval & Renaissance architecture
The current building dates from the 15th and the 16th century, and reflects a mix of the fortified medieval style and the Italian inspired Renaissance style. The stables and other outbuildings are of much later date [19th century].
Porcupine badge of King Louis XII, inner courtyard
In 1550 Catherine de'Medici, wife of King Henri II, bought Chaumont and regularly spent time there. She was very interested in astrology and both Nostradamus and Ruggieri were invited by her to Chaumont.  However, Catherine de Medici had her eye on Chenonceau, the Renaissance chateau built over the river Cher and given by the king to his mistress and favourite, Diane de Poitiers. When Henri II died in 1559, she 'required' Diane de Poitiers to exchange Chenonceau for Chaumont.
Inner courtyard, 16th century spiral staircase, center-right
In the 18th century Benjamin Franklin and the writer, Madame de Staël were guests of the Le Ray de Chaumont family who owned it at the time. In 1875 the chateau was bought by a sugar heiress who married the Prince de Broglie. They had the state of the art [for the time] stables built and it was the Prince de Broglie who commissioned the landscape architect Henri Duchêne to create the gardens [parc].

Parc at Chaumont looking towards the bluff above the Loire
The Princess de Broglie outlived her husband and retained ownership of Chaumont until 1938 when, as a result of financial losses and debts, she gifted Chaumont to the state.  Since 2007 Chaumont has been owned by Region Centre.

15 comments:

Tim said...

Great post....
but...
"she gifted Chaumont to the state"...
shouldn't that read "lumbered the state with"!!
But they've made a good job of it since, by the look of the place.

And the gradens festival is always a good visit!!
Long may it last...

rusty duck said...

Quite magnificent, and definitely fairy tale. Interesting history too. We visited on the same trip as Azay le Rideau but I don't remember the gardens being quite so developed then. It would have been over 20 years ago so my memory may not be spot on!

Pollygarter said...

It's one of my faovourite chateaux with those fat pepperpot towers. And that cedar is perfect. One of these days I'll stump up for the chateau visit as well as the gardens. Fabulous pictures.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Tim - we were being polite! ;-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Rusty - I think they started the annual show gardens about 20 yrs ago so they might not have been up and running

ladybird said...

I like Chaumont too. The view from the terrace is fabulous. Almost as good as the one from the top of Amboise castle. But then I'm biassed ...:)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Pauline - the cedars really frame the chateau to perfection. The chateau is worth the visit and not just for the building alone; they have further art exhibitions/installations inside.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Martine - fabulous is the word ...... hard to call which is better in our opinion ;-)

the fly in the web said...

It used to be a favourite with visitors....and with us.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - it certainly went down well with our friend Jane; and with us --it was our 1st visit.

JEH2011 said...

It certainly was spectacular... loved it all!

Perpetua said...

Now that is what I call a fairy-tale castle! :-) Absolutely beautiful and yet somehow on a human scale. That courtyard made me think one could live there...

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ JEH - good! So did we :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - it's the pepper-pot turrets that do it for me.
You get a lovely view over the Loire valley from the courtyard and they demolished the north wing in the 17th century to open things up a bit.

Niall & Antoinette said...

that should read ...as they..