Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Down the river from Blois, about a twenty minute ride by car, is another of the Loire Valley's famous castles: Chaumont. Built, as many of the castles are, on a bluff overlooking the river, Chaumont looks like a fairy-tale castle with round crenelated towers and pointy roofs. It even has a working drawbridge.

The base of Chaumont's southwest tower with a view of the Loire River below.

Part of Chaumont's fame comes from one of its previous owners, Diane de Poitiers. She was the mistress of King Henri II (son of François I). Henri's wife, Catherine de Médicis (of the famous Florentine de Medici family), was quite jealous of the long-lasting affair, but reportedly suffered in silence.

When Henri was killed in a jousting match in the mid-sixteenth century, his young son became king and Catherine became the regent. She used her new power to boot her former rival Diane out of the Château de Chenonceau (which Henri had given her) and in exchange gave her the castle at Chaumont as compensation. From what I've read, Diane never actually resided at Chaumont, but that's the story.

The castle is a feast for the eyes, both inside and out. Many of the rooms include period furniture, but it's mostly gathered from other places. Royal castles were plundered after the Revolution and not much remains. The last inhabitants of the castle furnished it lavishly in the nineteenth century, but they ended up having to sell the place to the government in 1938.

Oh, and Benjamin Franklin, one of the United States' founding fathers, once stayed here.


  1. If someone gave me a château like Chaumont, I would try to find the time to stay in it, at least occasionally, just to be polite !!

  2. I love the last "throw-away" line, Walt!
    Benjamin Franklin once stayed here.
    It should have a blue plaque!
    Brought a smile to my face on this grey [or just for you...gray] morning... just like the gargoyle pic of the week... at least I presume it is a gargoyle.. or is it the angle of the picture?

  3. Nostradamus spent time there when he was Catherine de Medici's fortune teller, but for me, the most entertaining occupant was the last private owner, the deliciously eccentric Marie-Charlotte Say, heiress to the Begum Say sugar fortune and second richest woman in France at the time she purchased Chaumont.

    1. Hi Susan,

      I think you mean Béghin [Say], because Marie-Charlotte wasn’t the spouse of a maharajah, but first married Prince de Broglie and then Prince d’Orléans.

      In fact Béghin became associated with Say only in 1967, and the company Béghin-Say was created in 1972, almost thirty years after Marie-Charlotte demise.

  4. Hey, no kidding? I didn't know that about Benjamin Franklin!

  5. It seems to be coming apart at the seams.

  6. It looks like the white cliffs of dover!

  7. I love the history behind these things. I appreciate you posting them.


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