Founded in 1379, the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel), whose construction started just before the death of Charles V in 1380, was inaugurated only in 1552 under the reign of Henry II, after a long interruption of the building work starting at the beginning of 15th century. The Collège de Chanoines was set up in February 1380. The Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes was intended to house part of the relics of the Passion, like the chapel of the Palais de la Cité in Paris. Through the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle, Charles V wished to turn Vincennes into a second capital of the kingdom, alongside the Palais de la Cité in Paris. The traditional old Parisian palace remained but, at Vincennes, in an appropriate and grandiose setting boldly asserting the ideology of a triumphant monarchy through its quality, opulence and décor, a new capital was envisioned but unfortunately never really realized.
The architectural heritage in the Loire Valley's historic towns is notable, especially its châteaux, such as the Château d'Amboise, Château de Chambord, Château de Chinon, Château du Rivau, Château d'Ussé, Château de Villandry and Chenonceau. The châteaux, numbering more than three hundred, represent a nation of builders starting with the necessary castle fortifications in the 10th century to the splendor of those built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux here, the nobility, not wanting or even daring to be far from the seat of power, followed suit. Their presence in the lush, fertile valley began attracting the very best landscape designers and architects. The Loire Valley is an area steeped in history and because of its riches, one that has been fought over and influenced by a variety of adversaries from the Romans to Atila the Hun. The formation of the region as we know it today began after its conquest by Julius Caesar in 52 BC. It is however, Emperor Augustus who is credited with bringing peace and stability to the Loire Valley. This stability saw the growth of towns such as Orleans (Genabum), Tours (Caesarodunum), Le Mans (Noviodunum), Angers (Juliomagus), Bourges (Avaricum) and Chartres (Autricum). The Roman's greatest influence however might be considered to be the introduction of the first grape vines to the region, as shown in the wine AOC map shown above.
The interior of Chenonceau is full of history and a remarkable collection of art. The entrance hall, shown above, is covered with a series of rib vaults whose keystones, detached from each other, form a broken line. The baskets are decorated with foliage, roses, cherubs, chimeras, and cornucopia. Made in 1515, it is one of the most beautiful examples of decorative sculpting from the French Renaissance period. The entire interior is full of inventive architecture, art treasures and above all the history of France.
I thought I would break the post on the Château Chenonceau into three parts, the history and pictures of the Château, the interior, and the surrounding forest and gardens. As you might have guessed from the picture above, this is the last. Chenonceau is located in an absolutely beautiful forest and even the parking lot pictured above is lovely. From the map below, you can see that the entrance is a long city block from the château. As they say in the brochure:
“The beauty of Chenonceau imposes itself like a relationship that speaks to the heart: the harmony between the sky, water, gardens and architecture appeals to every visitor, no matter what their cultural background.”