I promise, no more photos of chateaux after this, but Chenonceau on the river Cher is so stunning, I can't resist.
Chenonceau is known as the "Chateau des Dames" for its many famous women residents.
The first Dame was Katherine Briçonnet, who had the castle built in 1513.
In 1547, when he ascends the throne, Henry II gives the castle to his mistress Diane de Poitier. Though she was twenty years older than him, she stayed one of his favorites till his assassination in 1559.
Seizing her chance for revenge, Henry II's wife, Catherine De Medici, asks her husband's former mistress to leave, knowing full well Diane's attachment to Chenonceau. In exchange, Catherine gives Diane the castle of Chaumont, but Diane never settled there. Catherine on the other hand, stamps Chenonceau with her own taste, commissions lots of work, lays out some of the magnificent gardens and throws elaborate parties.
Catherine leaves the castle to her daughter-in-law, Louise De Lorraine, who, after her husband Henry III is killed, spends the rest of her life in mourning at Chenonceau.
The castle survives the revolution intact, thanks to its then owner, Madame Dupin, who was beloved by the local villagers.
In 1864, Chenonceau is bought by Madame Pelouze, who has the castle restored to its original state.
The chateau's interior is still substancially adorned with a collection of medieval furnishings. The walls are hung with XVI and XVII century tapestries and a few Rubens, Tintorettos and Van Loo's are scattered around the chateau for good measure.
The favorite part of the tour of the castle, however, is most probably the 19th century kitchen in the basement, complete with every size copper pot one can imagine and a gigantic stove that would make any cook green with envy. Oh, and there is a bread oven as well....Not shabby, eh?