"The calm within is far from boring, the melancholy far from bitter" so said Gustave Flaubert of the Château de Chenonceau, which was a gift from Henri II to Diane of Poitiers. The "Château des Dames", built on the structure of an old mill, stretches over the Cher river, with its elegant Renaissance arches, the Catherine de Médicis Gallery above.
The edifice was restored remarkably well and within one can admire a rich collection of paintings, furniture and tapestries.
But why is it known as the "ladies' Château"? Well, the so called Château des Dames was occupied by a succession of ladies. After Diane de Poitiers, her daughter in law Louise de Lorraine, the bereaved widow of Henry III, followed by Gabrielle d'Estrees, the favorite of Henry IV who later took up residence at Chenonceau. Madame Dupin, who hosted the young Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Madame Pelouze who restored the château a century ago, also made their marks as inhabitants of the château de Chenonceau.
You can meet these elegant women in the wax museum at the château de Chenonceau.
Inside the château de Chenonceau, treasures abound: Renaissance furniture and tapestries dating from the 16th and 17th centuries adorn the elegant rooms. Paintings by great masters such as Correggio, Rubens, and Tintoretto complete the fine collection.
Take a walk in the beautiful French-style gardens and park, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere which reigns here in this charming spot beside the river.
The Museum of Prehistory houses a collection of objects dating from Prehistoric times found on sites in Touraine. Located in Le Grand Pressigny in the 12th century castle, which was remodelled in the 16th century, at the Museum of Prehistory you can admire the 12th century keep, the Renaissance gallery and the Vironne tower. You can also enjoy a beautiful view of the village and the Claise valley.
Tempted by the jungle but not keen on the creepy crawlies? Pay a visit to Beauval where 4 000 animals live in a park of 22 hectares in size. White tigers, manatees, African elephants, sea lions and birds of prey flying free... all these and more await you, as well as three tropical greenhouses.
The agility of the sea lions will delight the children and the feeding time of the wild animals will thrill the most intrepid.
With its success, the Beauval Zoo Park has grown from 2.5 acres to accommodate its new Indian plains where you can see Indian rhinos, white backed tapirs and Hanuman langurs.
Experience the savannah as if you were really there!
This is one of the twenty fortresses built at the end of the 10th century by Fulk III, the Black, the Count of Anjou, nicknamed the Black Hawk. The remains of the keep, restored by the architect William Dudley at the beginning of the 20th century, dominate the village.
However the keep suffered greatly following the bad weather in 2001.
Finally a way to visit the Châteaux of the Loire Valley that's just as much fun for children as for adults!
Set in a beautiful park, Mini-Châteaux invites visitors to stroll around 45 of the most stunning châteaux of the Loire, reproduced in miniature on a scale of 1/25.
The models are set in child-size scenery, with dwarf trees, moving boats and trains, and of course guided tours.
Mini-Châteaux is also a lovely garden, with 10,000 real bonsai trees and other miniature plants stretching over 5 acres, and roses, wisteria and jasmine filling the park with their glorious colors and delicious fragrances.