Chenonceau Ladies' Gallery

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Exterior Ground Floor Kitchens First Floor Second Floor Ladies' Gallery
The women responsible for Chenonceau each left their mark. Katherine Briçonnet, wife of the first owner, built the turreted pavilion and one of the first straight staircases in France here; Henri II's mistress, Diane de Poitiers, added the formal gardens and arched bridge over the river Cher; Catherine de Medici transformed the bridge into an Italian-style gallery (having evicted Diane following her husband's death in 1559); Louise of Lorraine, bereaved wife of Henri III, inherited the château in 1590 and painted the ceilings black and white, the colours of royal mourning; Madame Dupin, a cultured 18th century châtelaine, saved the château from destruction during the Revolution; and Madame Pelouze undertook a complete restoration in 1863. The Ladies' Gallery was built in the former Royal Stables. Historical circuit in Chenonceau, from the Renaissance to World War I. Below are some of the exhibits to be seen.

Below left is François I, father of Henry II. François I's reign from 1515 to 1547 witnessed the apogee of the French Renaissance, characterized by an intense period of château-building and an interest in humanism and the arts. The itinerant court travelled between the pleasure palaces of Amboise, Blois and Chambord in the Loire. Days were devoted to hunting, falconry, fêtes champêtres (country festivals) or jeu de paume, a forerunner of tennis. Nights were given over to feasting, balls, poetry and romantic assignations. Dinner usually took place before 7pm to the accompaniment of Italian music. Humanist texts were read aloud and the king's fools amused the courtiers. Below right is François II and Mary Stuart being received by Catherine de Medici.
Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566) became the mistress of the future Henry II when he was 12 years old. Two years later he married Catherine de Medici, but Diane remained his favourite until his death.
Below is the unfortunate Louise of Lorraine, widow of Henry III, who spent her remaining twelve years mourning the death of her husband.

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