Fortress of Chaumont sur Loire
The Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire overlooks the Loire and its valley.
Eudes I, Count of Blois built the first fortress to protect the castle of Blois against his rival the Count of Anjou, Fulk Nerra.
This fortress became the property of the Viking Gueldouin, who had married into the House of Amboise.
King Louis XI razed the fortress in 1455 ‘to punish’ Pierre d’Amboise, who had rebelled against him.
Pierre then Charles I d’Amboise immediately rebuilt the Gothic north and west wings, the imposing tower, the circular walkway, the crenellated battlements and the drawbridge.
In the early 1500’s Charles II d’Amboise built the south and east wings, the chapel, the gatehouse and the grand staircase in Early French Renaissance style.
Diane de Poitiers in the Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire
The Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire is also known as Château de Diane de Poitiers.
King Henri I and his favourite spent much time in the castle until his accidental death in 1559.
His widow, Queen Catherine de Medici, acquired the castle in 1560 to banish Diane de Poitiers.
However, Diane refused to live in Chaumont and retired to the Château d’Anet, near Paris, a present from the late king.
The royal mistress, however, undertook a long series of alteration work before leaving Chaumont.
She completed the walkway and battlements on the gatehouse and the east wing, which had been interrupted after the king’s death.
She also added her initials (two interlaced-D) and her emblem ((bows and quivers, hunting horns and crescent moons of the Greek Goddess of the Hunt) on each machicolation.
The king added also his emblem, the porcupine, on the western side of the Renaissance Wing.
Several similar emblems and decoration were also added inside the building.
The Italian ceramist Nini’s terracotta medallions
Jacques Donatien Le Ray, the governor of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, acquired the Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire in 1750.
He demolished the north wing to create the courtyard (one of the chateau’s landmarks) that boasts splendid views over the Loire.
Jacques Donatien Le Ray also founded a terracotta medallions factory and commissioned the Italian ceramist Nini to run it.
The workshops were installed in the stables and the kiln in the old dovecot.
This factory soon thrived and produced countless clay portraits of famous people of the time. It closed in 1786, 3 years before the Revolution.
The De Broglie transformed the Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire –
The Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire fortunately escaped demolition during that tragic page of French history.
Chaumont changed hands several times until 1875 when the Broglie family acquired it.
The wealthy industrialists decorated and furnished the interior in Neoclassical style.
They added lavish decorations and furniture of the highest refinement.
The French State purchased the Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire in 1938 and refurbished it in its original Renaissance style.
Most of the lavish 19th century decoration was therefore removed, but the many pieces of furniture and tapestries were kept.
A quick tour of the Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire
The car park is located by the village. A steep trail winds between the giant cedars of Lebanon and boasts prime views of the river and its valley.
1- It leads to the gatehouse and the U shape courtyard that overlooks the village and the river.
2- The decoration of the Renaissance facade includes a frieze bearing the initials of Charles de Chaumont (two intertwined C) and his wife, and the rebus of Chaumont, Chaud Mont – Hot Mons or volcano.
3- The large windows, built during the 19th century, soften the austere Gothic wing, on the opposite side of the courtyard.
4- The Grand Salon is decorated in Louis XIII style and boasts exceptional views of the river.
The large windows let light pour into this lavishly decorated room and enhance the huge fireplace that bears the porcupine emblem of Louis XII.
5- The Billiard Room contain an exceptional collection of 16th century Flemish tapestries.
6- The next room is entirely dedicated to the exhibition of Nini’s terracotta medallions.
7- The Library and the Dining-room, located in the south wing, have been completely transformed.
8- The early Renaissance spiral staircase is a perfect example of transition from Romanesque to Gothic style.
9- It leads to the historic apartments, which the de Broglie decorated in Neo-Renaissance style.
10- The Guard Room, above the gatehouse, exhibits a huge collection of 16th to the 18th centuries armour and weapons.
11- Diane’s Bedchamber, which surprises by its modest size and decoration, is located in the tower above the gatehouse.
12- The King’s Bedchamber is located in the opposite tower. Its walls are adorned with the initials of Charles de Chaumont, two elegantly intertwined C.
13- The Council Chamber is located on the first floor of the east wing. The floor of this immense room is covered with well preserved 17th century Majorca tiles. Beautiful Brussels tapestries dating from the 16th adorn the walls.
14- This room leads directly to Catherine of Medici’ s Bedchamber. The impressive bed was not hers, but is an original 16th century piece of furniture.
15- The queen had direct access to the Flamboyant Gothic chapel and to the apartments of her personal astrologer Ruggieri, whose own bedchamber was linked to the roof.
Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire – Stables
The de Broglie’s luxurious stables contribute to the reputation of the Chateau of Chaumont sur Loire.
Built in 1877, they encompass a large courtyard.
They include separate stalls for the half-bred and thoroughbred stallions, the kitchen, the tack room, the shed for horse-drawn carriages and the pony stable.
However, their unique peculiarity is that they were fitted with electricity and central heating in 1906!
The dovecot, located in a corner of the courtyard, housed Nini’s kiln.
It was transformed into an indoor riding school for the children of the chateau during the 19th century.
Chateau de Chaumont sur Loire – Park and gardens
The de Broglie commissioned the gardener Duchêne with the landscaping of the 21-hectare ‘English style’ park in the 1880s.
Duchêne razed two hamlets and a small church, which he rebuilt below on the river bank.
He entirely landscaped the park and planted the superb cedars from Lebanon.
An Art Nouveau bridge leads to the Goualoup Garden, beyond the stables.
The gardens have hosted the International Garden Festival, since 1922.
This annual show takes place from mid-June to mid-October.
Finally, the farm accommodates the Conservatory of Parks and Gardens.
Department of Loir-et-Cher
Coordinates: Lat 47.479034 – Long 1.181916