Truly a floating palace (almost)
We decided to visit Chateau d’ Azay -le- Rideau on our second day in the Loire Valley. During my extensive research (i.e. looking at wikipedia pages) I saw this chateau and while it looked interesting, I had planned on visiting a different chateau this day. I have no historical knowledge of d’ Azay-le-Rideau, so I was going in without any frame of reference. It turned out, that this is by far, one of the true jewels of the Loire Valley. The weather was perfect, which helped, but I can safely say that even if it had been cold and rainy it would have been well worth it. The chateau is surrounded by a lovely little village which is very quant and mid-evil feeling. I was accustomed to English estates, where the stately home is usually some distance from the village (such as Blenheim). The approach to the chateau through the village made it seem so much more accessible and welcoming.
This Chateau is surrounded by the Indre River, although it has been channelled and controlled so that it appears to be more like a lake. I have since learned that it was originally constructed on a muddy island which caused no end of challenges for the builders. It was designed so that the chateau appears to be floating and the reflection on the water magnifies its beauty.
The gardens were lovely and far more like the English style I love and am accustomed to. There were no bordered flower beds and you do not get the sense that humans are trying to dominate nature you seem to find elsewhere (more on that in another post).
The interior was equally beautiful and, odd as it is to say given the size and scale of the chateau, comfortable. The rooms had a nice flow, and while this was never a royal house to my knowledge, it is both as elegant as a palace, yet also felt intimate and cosy. One of my favorite rooms had rattan wall coverings and charming exposed beam ceilings. It felt very contemporary, which is a perhaps due to the to the popularity of the French chateau style currently.
It seems clear to me that this chateau has been an inspiration for architects all over the world seeking to design in the French Renaissance style. This staircase is magnificent.
The one most interesting aspects of d’Azay- le- Rideau is the attic. It is 2 stories high, with windows on either side, held up by ancient Oak beams which date from the 16th century. (I believe that the original owner was given special permission to cut virgin Oaks for these beams). Below is a picture of the chimney with a little ladder to climb up it.
This visit was fantastic. As a fan of Louis XIV, I was pleased to learn that he stayed here once. I loved this chateau, and have since returning home started to learn more about its history, which is littered with royal connections. A governess to Louis XIV, Françoise de Souvre, lived here in the late 16th century.
The drive away from the Chateau into the village.
My dad, me and my boyfriend, Matt.