Château d'Azay-le-Rideau

Azay-le-Rideau, France

Château de Azay-le-Rideau was built from 1515 to 1527 and it is one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux. Built on an island in the Indre River, its foundations rise straight out of the water.

Gilles Berthelot, Treasurer-General of the Finances of France under King Francis I and mayor of Tours, began reconstructing Azay-le-Rideau's earlier medieval castle, that was part of his wife's inheritance. However, it was his wife, Philippe Lesbahy, who directed the course of the works, including its central internal staircase that is Azay's greatest most remarkable feature.

When Berthelot was suspected of collusion in embezzlement he was forced to flee from incomplete Azay-le-Rideau in 1528; he never saw the château again. Instead, the king confiscated the property and gave it as a reward to one of his high-ranking soldiers.

Over the centuries, it changed hands several times until the early part of the twentieth century, when it was purchased by the French government and restored. The interior was completely refurbished with a collection of Renaissance pieces.

Today, the château is open to public visits, and is operated by the Centre des monuments nationaux. Azay-le-Rideau is surrounded by a distinctly 19th-century park like English landscape garden with many specimen trees, especially exotic conifers: Atlas cedar, and bald cypress and sequoias from the New World.

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Details

Founded: 1515-1527
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sue Alemann (9 months ago)
In the middle of a river, surrounded by water, set in a park, with wonderful furniture and animations. It has as much to offer as other more popular castles in the area, with smaller crowds. icturesque and worth a visit.
Nigel Bray (10 months ago)
The Château was completely full of visitors today, extremely claustrophobic. Had to escape to the garden for a quiet walk in the garden.
覃羿彬 (12 months ago)
This is a dreamy castle, one of the best off-the-beaten track destinations in the Loire Valley in my opinion. The castle’s rooms are beautifully arranged with jaw-dropping items (will be great fun for kids and adults who could appreciate mechanics and art), the castle and it’s garden is of tranquility in general, quite a hidden gem.
Micke Lay (13 months ago)
Magnificent castle surrounded by water. You need an hour to go around and a bit more to enjoy all the selfies spots. Tasty home made Ice scream shop inside the garden just in front of the castle. Free for students and reasonable other prices. The only drawback is the castle is a little far away.
Dan Cleveland (15 months ago)
Beautifully cared for. Every room is impeccable. Newly restored roof system is impressive. Walking paths on the grounds allow for spectacular photo ops. Restaurant is reasonably priced and food quite good in addition to having views of the chateau from the outdoor sitting areas.
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Château de Chaumont

The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.