The Chateau de Chaumont is known as one of France's largest and most spectacular historical structures. This particular chateau, located in the heart of the Loire Valley, which is home to numerous mediaeval castles, was initially built as a fortification to protect the town of Blois and its surroundings and is today one of the most visited châteaus of the Loire Valley.
The huge castle was built with four major sides enclosing a courtyard on 21 hectares of ground that has subsequently been turned into an outstanding park and gardens. The castle initially had four sides, but one was removed to give better views of the Loire River and valley. The castle grounds also have a long row of huge horse stables.
The Chaumont castle is situated in the town of Chaumont-sur-Loire, in the heart of France's Loire Valley. The castle, located approximately 12 miles from the town of Blois on the banks of the Loire River, towers above the little town and the valley. It is about a 40-minute drive from the city of Tours.
The Ruggieri Room is called after a symbol on the mantelpiece that features the Greek letter delta – Diane's initial – and three circles or three full moons. This sculpture was first understood as a cabalistic sign of Ruggieri, one of Queen Catherine de Medici's astrologers. Still, it might be an evocation of Diane de Poitiers, as Diane is the Roman moon goddess. A late 17th-century bed with a suspended canopy, a Cosimo Ruggieri painting from the same era, and a cabinet with a single drawer, an apron, and a drop-leaf with a lock from the first quarter of the 17th century round out the room's furnishings.
The Catherine de Medici chamber, previously a ceremonial bedroom, houses the Chaumont castle's oldest tapestry, produced in Tournai in the late 15th century (The Story of Perseus and Pegasus). A late 16th-century tapestry from the Manufacture des Flandres (The Story of David and Abigail), a full-length painting of Catherine de Medici (a 19th-century replica), a tapestry from the Manufacture des Flandres, and a unique Henri II-style bed from the 19th-century are also on show. The semi-relief carved mermaids that support the headboard of the canopy bed are topped by a female rider and a warrior.
The de Broglie family imported superb 17th-century Majolica tiles for the council room from the Collutio Palace in Palermo, Sicily. A 16th-century table with pull-out leaves, a late 17th-century chimney from Château de Ménars (near Blois), and a portrait of Diane de Poitiers (19th century) complement the interior design of this chamber.
The Planets and Days Tapestries, a masterwork of late 16th century woven tapestry, is now on display in the Council Chamber at Chaumont castle, after several years out of sight and one year under repair at the studios of the Royal Manufacturers De Wit in Belgium. Astrology is the fundamental topic that runs through these famous Planets and Days Tapestries. Each Roman mythological figure – one for each day of the week and planet – is sitting in a chariot, representing the movement of the stars. One or more Zodiac signs appear on the chariot's wheels, which are drawn by a real or imaginary animal associated with the god.
The guard chamber above the Château porch is positioned in the tower-flanked entry. It houses a rare late 16th-century safe weighing over 250 kilogrammes, a late 17th-century tapestry depicting a scene in the life of Cimon (Athenian General), a collection of Ottoman weaponry (mantelpiece) from the 19th century given to the de Broglie family by the Maharajah of Kapurthala, and three paintings (The Road to Calvary from the 17th century, Extreme Unction and The Resurrection in the neo-primitive style from the 19th century).
The King's Room, located in the Western entry tower, features polychrome décor on the wooden panelling and ceiling that is historicist in style – popular during the Romantic era – and dates back to 1830-1840. Documents and images illustrating life in the Château during the de Broglies' reign are periodically displayed in this area.
This chamber also houses seventy medallions and eight moulds created by the Italian artist Jean-Baptiste Nini in the 18th century. He painted portraits of many prominent personalities of his period, including Louis XV, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Benjamin Franklin, and all members of the Le Ray family, as well as more ordinary townspeople (doctor, solicitor, registrar).
The grand spiral staircase demonstrates French painters' gradual incorporation of Italian style about 1500: three-foiled Gothic motifs give place to Renaissance foliage and Italianising arabesques decorating the column shafts. The windows are adorned with stained glass depicting heraldic themes (coats of arms) of the several families that have held Chaumont.
This stairway connects to several empty and freshly reopened portions of the Château dedicated to modern art, including Princess Henri-Amédée de Broglie's old bedroom, which is now an art exhibition.
From May through early November, the Domaine du Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire hosts the 'Festival International des Jardins de Chaumont Sur Loire,' commonly known as the International Festival of Gardens. Every year, the festival has a new theme, with different notable gardeners from around the world creating their unique creations for the event, attracting 350,000 people each year. The 31st International Garden Festival will take place this year from April 21 to November 6, 2022, and will be themed 'Ideal Garden.' This year, the designers will wow guests by displaying their creativity on 30 stunning gardens that are also organic, comfortable, therapeutic, creative, and cost-effective.
The grounds at Chaumont are a relatively new addition to the château's long history. Until the 1880s, the location had little similarity to its current configuration. Instead of the current grounds, the château overlooked a settlement of two hamlets (Les Places and Le Frédillet) with a total of 113 homes, a church and clergy at the foot of the Saint Nicolas tower, and a cemetery beyond the hamlets. The only truly decorative greenery that the château could claim was a few lawns covered with clusters of flowers and cut across by carriageways.
Nonetheless, several elements still in place predate the building of the manicured gardens. Several cedar trees that are still surviving today were planted by the Count of Aramon, as were a section of the main driveway that is bordered by chestnut trees in the southeast of the grounds and a path that is surrounded by linden trees on the eastern side of the château. Between 1830 and 1847, he was the château's owner.
The stables were designed by Paul-Ernest Sanson, the prince and princess de Broglie's architect, in 1877. They were considered the most sumptuous, modern mansion in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century; the saddle room features superb Hermès harnesses. Horses were vital throughout the second part of the nineteenth century. Even though the railway increasingly displaced them for medium and long excursions, animals remained the most popular mode of propulsion among private persons. Furthermore, they functioned as a symbol of affluence, as horse-drawn carriages had long been a reliable indicator of success. They were also used to organise hunts, and wealthy lords would have their coats of arms imprinted on their carriages to display the splendour of their footman's livery.
The "petit-duc" Princess Henri-Amédée de Broglie hired the carriage-makers Belvalette to build this lady's "petit-duc," a roofless vehicle with a low open body intended for soaking up city air. The owner of the vehicle, who sat in a seat behind the body with space for one or two servants but no coachman's seat, operated the vehicle directly from within.
The "vis-à-vis" This lightweight promenade carriage was created by the Dosme brothers. It had a lowered footwell and two wickerwork seats that could hold two pairs of people facing one other (carriage-makers based in Blois). The Broglie family and their visitors used it for hunting, camping, and picnics, and it had a wicker box in the back.
The Landau Princess de Broglie frequently travelled to Paris for shopping and to see plays at the Opéra Garnier on this landau, which Mühlbacher (Napoleon III's preferred royal carriage-maker), had commissioned. The decreased footwell of the two-door car had a pair of leather toppers that extended from the footwell level and latched together above the doors.
The Omnibus The Château Omnibus, a breathtakingly sumptuous coach, was designed by Mühlbacher. In addition to attending hunting events and horse races, the omnibus, drawn by four horses or three at a time, was used to transport luggage and passengers between the château and the nearest railway station in Onzain.
The Great Stable is divided into several areas, including a hall, carriage house, indoor riding arena, purebred boxes, working and gala saddleries, carriage horse stalls, and pony stalls. The inside layout of the building hasn't altered since it was built in 1877 and has stalls, cartouches with the names of the horses engraved on them, benches, managers and drinking troughs made of cast iron with multicoloured enamelled plaques on them, brass balls and hooks, and arc lighting. To prevent horses from harming their flanks, wooden partitions are covered with brush matting. On the stable wall, a panel of instructions enclosed in a carved wooden frame lists the groom's and the stable boys' responsibilities for each hour of the day.
The history of Château de Chaumont began in the year 1000, when Eudes I, Count of Blois, had the fortification erected on a hill overlooking the river to guard the border between the counties of Blois and Anjou. Sulpice purchased the château I d'Amboise in 1054 and remained in the Amboise family for the following 500 years. Chaumont-sur-Loire was one of the wealthiest châteaux in the Loire Valley during the Renaissance and was bought by Queen Catherine de' Medici, who also entertained famous astrologers like Ruggieri.
She traded Château de Chenonceau for the manor after King Henri II's passing to her old adversary Diane de Poitiers. The American "Founding Father" was portrayed on the medallions created by Italian artist Jean-Baptiste Nini, who also oversaw the construction of two factories on the estate. In 1750, the château was bought by Jacques-Donatien Le Ray, a fervent supporter of American independence who entertained Benjamin Franklin.
Domaine de Chaumont sur Loire open every morning at 10 am.
Dogs are permitted at the International Garden Festival and Historic Grounds but not in the Chateau.
The Domaine du Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire is open throughout the year. However, try to arrange your visit between May and early November, as this is when the International Garden Festival is held, which is a major draw for this location.
The Chaumont-sur-Loire castle is famous for a lot of things but it is mostly renowned for hosting the yearly 'Festival International des Jardins de Chaumont-sur-Loire' (International Festival of Gardens).
Château de Chaumont was constructed in the 10th century by Eudes II, a count of neighbouring Blois, and was the first fortress built in Chaumont-sur-Loire.
Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire is open throughout the year.
Tourists are encouraged to purchase Domaine du Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire tickets online since on-site tickets are subject to availability, and trips within the domain are exclusively by reservation. As a result, it is preferable to secure your time slots ahead of time.