Located near the village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département, the Château de Chenonceau is also known the Château des Dames (Ladies' Château). It was built in the 16th century on the foundations of an old mill (1514–1522), and then extended to span the river.
Thomas Bohier, Chamberlain to King Charles VIII of France, had purchased the castle in 1513. However, it was seized from his son 32 years later as he could not pay his debts. So it became the property of Kings Francis I and Henry II. The latter gave it to Diane of Poitiers, who decided to add a bridge and surrounding gardens, before Catherine de Medici forcefully took over.
After her death (1589), the castle changed hands several times. During the 18th century, the Dupin family turned it into an intellectual centre. You could bump into people like Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Buffon there!
The castle escaped destruction during the French Revolution and was used as a hospital during WWI. According to France This Way, "in the Second World War, Chenonceau was a link (and escape route) between the Nazi occupied territory north of the Cher and the vichy zone to the south. In the latter half of the 20th century the château was renovated and subsequently opened to the public."
The castle is one of the most visited in the Loire Valley.
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