The Châteaux of the Loire are an incredible collection of magnificent properties. Homes to the very privileged, aristocrats born to a life style of opulence and indulgence, far removed from the poverty and hardships of most. Nestled throughout the Loire Valley, many within a short carriage ride away from each other, one can imagine the balls and soirees that occurred amongst their grandeur and architectural splendor. These châteaux, (World Unesco Heritage sites) remain today as a memory to a bygone era, even a visit to just two of them, provides an insight into a world long since swept away by the ravages of time.
Situated between Le Mans and Tours, Château Le Lude is in the most most northerly region of the Loire Valley.

Chateau le Lude, Loire Valley, France
It is one of the last important historical castles in France and is still inhabited by the same family who have lived there for the last 260 years.
Dining room at Chateau Le Lude
Bedroom at Chateau Le Lude
A magnificent creation spanning four centuries of French architecture.
From the garden at Chateau Le Lude, Loir Valley, France
The grounds are a beautiful blend of French and English design with its rose garden, topiaries, labyrinth and botanical walk.
The Château de Chenonceau, a former royal residence, spans the River Cher, next to the small village of Chenonceau.
La Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France
Built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill, it was extended to span the river by the French Renaissance architect Philibert de l’Orme, and from 1570–1576 the gallery on the bridge was added to designs by Jean Bullant.
Earlier painting of Chateau de Chenonceau
It is quite exceptional with its unique design and beautiful furnishings.

Some of the sumptuous bedrooms

Bedroom inside Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France

A bedroom at Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France
Grand bedroom at Chateau de Chenonceau

The extensive kitchens

Serving dresser at Chateau de Chenonceau , Loire Valley, France
One can imagine the bustling hive of activity using these cooking implements in preparation for the lavish entertainment which the servants were responsible for creating.
In the kitchen at Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France
In the kitchen at Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France
Madame Dupin, who saved Chateau Chemenceau from the French Revolution

The château was destined to be in the hands of women who all lovingly cherished and maintained it; from Katherine Briconnet in 1513, to Diane de Poitiers and then the French Queen Catherine Medici.
Madame Louise Dupin, (shown here) a renowned beauty of her time, saved it from the ravages of the French Revolution.
A rich heiress, Marguerite Pelouze, acquired it 1864  restoring it extensively.
It changed hands twice more until in 1913 it was bought by Henri Menier.

During World War I, Gaston Menier used the enormous gallery as a hospital ward.
Long hall at Chateau de Chenonceau, used as a hospital during Wold War 1
During the Second World War, it was a means of escaping from the Nazi occupied zone on one side of the River Cher to the “free” zone on the opposite bank. It was occupied by the Germans, and bombed by the Allies on 7 June 1944, when the chapel was hit and its windows destroyed. In 1951, the Menier family entrusted the château’s restoration to Bernard Voisin, who brought the dilapidated structure and the gardens (ravaged in the Cher River flood in 1940) back to a reflection of its former glory.

The formal gardens

Formal gardens at Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France

The stables and outer buildings

The Stables & carriage homes at Chateau de Chenonceau
Visited and enjoyed by millions every day.
View of Chateau de Chenonceau , Loire Valley, France
It is filled with stunning flower arrangements as a tribute its illustrious past.
Flowers in the servants dining hall
Staff dining room at Chateau de Chenonceau
and throughout the entire château
Flower arrangement in Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France
Flower display at Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France
A flower display at Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France