The Château d'Ussé stronghold at the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre Valley was first fortified in the 11th century by the Norman seigneur of Ussé, Gueldin de Saumur, who surrounded the fort with a palisade on a high terrace. The site passed to the Comte de Blois, who rebuilt in stone.
In the 15th century, the ruined castle of Ussé was purchased by Jean V de Bueil, a captain-general of Charles VII who became seigneur of Ussé in 1431 and began rebuilding it in the 1440s; his son Antoine de Bueil married in 1462 Jeanne de Valois, the natural daughter of Charles VII and Agnès Sorel, who brought as dowry 40000 golden écus. Antoine was heavily in debt and in 1455, sold the château to Jacques d’Espinay, son of a chamberlain to the Duke of Brittany and himself chamberlain to the king; Espinay built the chapel, completed by his son Charles in 1612, in which the Flamboyant Gothic style is mixed with new Renaissance motifs, and began the process of rebuilding the 15th-century château that resulted in the 16th-17th century aspect of the structure to be seen today.
In the seventeenth century Louis I de Valentinay, comptroller of the royal household, demolished the north range of buildings in order to open the interior court to the spectacular view over the parterre terrace, to a design ascribed to André Le Nôtre. Valentinay's son-in-law was the military engineer Vauban, who visited Ussé on numerous occasions. Later Ussé passed to the Rohan. In 1802 Ussé was purchased by the duc de Duras; as early as March 1813, low-key meetings were held at Ussé among a group of Bourbon loyalists, who met to sound out the possibilities of a Bourbon Restoration: such men as Trémouille, duc de Fitzjames, the prince de Polignac, Ferrand, Montmorency and the duc de Rochefoucault attended. Here later François-René de Chateaubriand worked on his Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe as the guest of duchesse Claire de Duras.
In 1885 the comtesse de la Rochejaquelein bequeathed Ussé to her great-nephew, the comte de Blacas. Today the château belongs to his descendent. Famed for its picturesque aspect, Ussé was the subject of a French railroad poster issued by the Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans in the 1920s and was one of several that inspired Walt Disney in the creation of many of the Disney Castles.References:
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.