Chateau de Chaumont - one of the famous French castles on the Loire River
Location show on map
41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire, France
Date of build
Chateau de Chaumont is a castle in the French town of Chaumont-sur-Loire, ranked among the castles on the Loire River. The first structure on this site appeared in the 10th century.
The fortress at Chaumont-sur-Loire was built around the year 1000 to guard the border between the counties of Blois and Anjou.
The wooden structure was burned in 1465 on the orders of the French king, Louis XI de Valais.
From 1465 to 1510, a stone fortress was built on the site. The western wing, distinguished by its medieval appearance and used for defensive purposes, was built first; the rest of the structure was kept in the Renaissance style.
In 1560 Catherine de Medici, wife of Henry II, became the owner of the Chateau de Chaumont and decorated it with numerous tapestries. Her astrologer Cosimo Ruggieri moved into the fortress and took a liking to one of the castle's towers to observe the night sky. The observatory room survives to this day.
After Henry's death, she passed it on to her husband's former mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Diane had previously lived at the Chateau Chenonceau, but Catherine evicted her hated rival. Catherine forced Diane to give up the beautiful Chateau Chenonceau in exchange for the opportunity to live here.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Raya took over the fortress as a summer residence. He ordered the demolition of the north wing and the adjoining cloisters. He built a new staircase in the southern section. Le Ray was passionate about America and the American Revolution.
Fascination with America led to one of the most interesting guests at Chateau de Chaumont being President Benjamin Franklin.
In 1810, Madame de Stael, an orphaned 18-year-old sugar heiress, became the new owner of the chateau. She managed the estate until 1875 and passed it on to the Duke of Broglie. Together with her husband Prince Henri-Amédée de Broglie, she restored and modernized the castle and took care of the landscape of the gardens. Thanks to her enormous fortune, she was able to afford numerous festivals and shows.
In 1877, the architect Paul-Ernest Sanson was commissioned to build the magnificent stables. The architect was also asked by Prince Henri Amédée de Broglie to comprehensively renovate the castle. The stables were among the first in Europe to be equipped with electric arc lighting, at the same time the Opera Garnier and the Paris Town Hall, among others, received such lighting.
In 1938 the fortress was bought by the French state. After renovation and decorative works, the castle was opened to tourists.
Today, the Chateau de Chaumont has the function and status of a museum. From June to October, the Garden Festival for the best English-style garden design is held here. During the summer, tourists can enjoy carriage rides through the park.
The castle has only three sides because the side facing the river was removed in the 16th century to improve the view for its inhabitants.
An annual art exhibition is held inside the castle. Some rooms are furnished and cozy and feel like the eccentric Marie might have been in those gardens, running around and picking flowers. Others are full of amazing, ethereal and fabulous artwork.
In addition to the beautiful rooms, noteworthy features include a grand salon, a billiard room and a library where several 16th-century Flemish tapestries are displayed. Also impressive is a spiral staircase leading to a guardhouse over a drawbridge and then through several chambers, each containing more tapestries.
Official website: https://www.domaine-chaumont.fr
"The chateau is built round three sides of a square, the fourth being open, and affording a wide view across the Loire; and it is garnished with a large number of the round towers with conical roofs, which impart so much of their character to the chateaux of the Loire." - say the inscription from 1889.