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'.
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
]. 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.