This post is part of a series I am doing on our trip to the Loire valley in central France. Set on an island in the middle of the Indre river, the château of Azay-le-Rideau seems to rise straight out of the waters of the river, which reflect the castle's façades so that the château appears to float in its own image. The writer Balzac, who lived nearby and was occasionally a guest at the château, deeply admired the building; over lunch one day he described it as “a facetted diamond set in the Indre”. The striking setting has helped Azay-le-Rideau to become one of the most famous of the Loire's many châteaux. Just as Chenonceau and Cheverny were, Azay-le-Rideau was once again the work of a woman: Madame Berthelot, even though what she left behind still somewhat resembled a fortress. It was under the rule of Louix XIV that the castle of Azay-le-Rideau acquired all its present-day elegance and witnessed its most lavish period. Even though it was saved from destruction during the Revolution, it lost its medieval castle appearance, namely because of the demolition of its turret.
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.