Chenonceau, Loire castles. The remarkable dwelling of a remarkable woman (book)
Chenonceau. Beauty advice from the 16th century
-She dived at dawn from the castle into the cold water of the river?
-Imagine the skin she had.
-That explains her accomplishments.
The above comments are some of the many said by my students, when I told them the story of Diane de Poitiers, on the occasion of the presentation of the castle of Chenonceau at the Loire valley.
If you find yourself in the Loire valley on a package trip, it is certain that one of the castles you will see will be Chenonceau. Not only because of the incredible story of the famous 16th-century beauty, to whom it belonged, but also because it is one of the most beautiful castles in the world, thanks not only to its architecture but also to its location.
A castle above the river
The Loire castles are built on the banks of the eponymous river, which starts from central France with a western direction and flows into the Atlantic.
Already from the end of the Middle Ages, but mainly in the Renaissance, it became a favourite resort of the French nobility and kings. All those built luxurious castles on the banks of the Loire itself and its tributaries.
Only Diane de Poitiers didn’t build it next to the river. She built it ABOVE the river.
This is the very first thing that distinguishes Chenonceau from the hundreds (indeed, it’s not an exaggeration) castles of the Loire. This castle stands on massive stone pillars, based in the riverbed of the Cher, a tributary of the Loire.
I found myself in the Loire valley many times, especially in the years I was studying in Paris . I had heard the name of Diane de Poitiers but didn’t know many details. Those I learned from a guided tour on the spot.
Diane de Poitiers was a French nobleman who was born in 1499. She began as a lady of honour in the royal court, a young widow of a husband 39 years older than her, and ended mistress of King Henry II.
You will say, that’s not original. The originality lies elsewhere. The king was 20 years her junior!
The rest of the article, in this book
About the author
Hello! I am Denis, an architect based in Athens, Greece. I teach history of art and architecture in higher education. That’s one passion of mine. The other one is hiking, in and out of town. If you follow me, I’ll share my discoveries with you.
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