Azay-le-Rideau Things to Do

  • Walking through  Azay-Le-Rideau
    Walking through Azay-Le-Rideau
    by Herkbert
  • Walking through  Azay-Le-Rideau
    Walking through Azay-Le-Rideau
    by Herkbert
  • Walking through  Azay-Le-Rideau
    Walking through Azay-Le-Rideau
    by Herkbert

Most Recent Things to Do in Azay-le-Rideau

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    Visit Chateau Azay-Le-Rideau

    by Herkbert Written Aug 13, 2011

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    Beautiful inside and outside, the Chateau Azay-Le-Rideau is definitely worth visiting. It has a fairy tale feeling as you approach. You are waiting for people right out of the 16th century to walk out and greet you.

    The tour through the chateau is an interesting look at life in a chateau. This is a chateau that was lived in and they go all out to present it that way. You can stop and just look from the outside, but it is worthwhile to tour throughout. make sure to walk all around the outside of the chateau to see it from every angle.

    Open daily 9:30 - 6:30, Entry fee was Euro 8 for adults.

    Chateau Azay-Le-Rideau Inside Azay-Le-Rideau Walking through  Azay-Le-Rideau Walking through  Azay-Le-Rideau Walking through  Azay-Le-Rideau
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    Walk Through the Interior

    by hquittner Updated Feb 21, 2009

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    The interiors have 16 & 17C furnishings, beds and tapestries. The main fireplaces bear gilded Salamanders (for Francois I).The ballroom mantel was probably carved by Goujon. Not that Francois ever stayed here, but it was to show those who came to visit that the owner was close to the King. The kitchen is vaulted with ribbing which terminates on fancifully sculpted corbels. The floor has been raised to minimize flood damage. One of the corbels shows a dog gnawing a bone.

    The Ballroom The Francois Bedroom Dog ad Bone Corbel
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    Walk Around the Chateau

    by hquittner Updated Feb 21, 2009

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    The Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau is on the Indre River (a tributary of the the Loire). Its construction started in 1518 (architect E. Rousseau), adopting the new Renaissance innovations seen at Blois and Amboise along with the "in the river" style of Chenonceau. The rich Giles Berthelot and his richer wife Philippa directed the massive endevor (over 120 workers), she riding herd and proposing styles, until political scandals forced them away. It is L-shaped with cone-topped and pointed turrets at each corner, with a steep slate roof and set on an islet out into the water. The interiors are gracefully executed as well. The Sound and Light Show features people dressed in period finery and using boats on the water as well as showing off the architecture.

    Two Wings Looking South Entrance Stair Tower View of Chateau Back View with Sound & Light Boats
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau: Its Exterior

    by von.otter Updated Feb 7, 2009

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    “Because of the beauty of the building itself, the view of Azay-le-Rideau from the side of the Indre opposite the gate of entrance seems to me one of the most beautiful views of a perfect building, perfectly situated, that can be seen in all the world.”
    — from “Churches and Castles of Mediæval France” 1895 by Walter Cranston Larned (1850-1914)

    In 1791 Marquis Charles de Biencourt, an expert on modern agricultural techniques, bought castle. He began the process of modernizing the château’s farm. In 1825 his son, Armand Francois, took up the task of restoring the castle. The ministry of historic buildings contributes funds in 1840 to carry out more renovations. When the Second Empire fell in 1870 it took down many in the French aristocracy, the Marquis de Biencourt among them. Although the family managed to hold on to the château through the end of the 19th century, by 1905 it had to sell; the French government was there to buy, and by 1907 more renovation work began.

    The view of the château’s unique central monumental staircase (photo #1) is a classic scene.

    Take a moment to take your picture with the château and its reflection (photo #2).

    There is an elaborate door surround in the castle’s Cour d’Honneur (photo #4).

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Exterior, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Exterior, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Exterior, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Exterior, 07/08
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau: Glimpsed From Its Park

    by von.otter Updated Feb 7, 2009

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    “Azay is a most perfect and beautiful thing; I should place it third in any list of the great houses of this part of France in which these houses should be ranked according to charm.”
    — from “A Little Tour In France” 1881 by Henry James (1843-1916)

    Gilles Berthelot was a rich financier who served under Louis XII in the late 15th and early 16th centuries; to reflect his wealth and position, he wished to establish his own fiefdom. He chose the town of Azay-le-Rideau and he set about building a château showplace inspired by the Italian High Renaissance.

    The ground where Berthelot wished to build had made unsuitable for building by the River Indre. After the land had dried out, Bethelot kept part of the foundations of the Mediaeval fortress that had once stood here. There is written documentation that construction began in 1518, but some think that it is more likely work began in 1514.

    By 1519, the year François I succeed his cousin Louis XII, work on Berthelot’s new château was progressing apace, supervised by Philippa, Gilles Bertholot’s wife. The new king had made it his mission to root out corruption amongst the grande bourgeoisie who rendered service to the crown. By 1527 Berthelot knew his time was up; he fled to Metz, leaving the château unfinished.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, July 20008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, July 20008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, July 20008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, July 20008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, July 20008
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    Azay-le-Rideau: Egilse Paroissial Saint Symphorien

    by von.otter Updated Jan 29, 2009

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    “We were tempted to linger so long in the grounds that we had only a short time to spend in the interesting eleventh century church which adjoins the park and, like the château, belongs to the State. The façade of the church is richly decorated with quaint statuettes and carvings, and here also is a seigniorial chapel with inscriptions of the Biencourt family who owned the château of Azay-le-Rideau before it passed into the hands of the government.”
    — Antiques Digest, 1911

    So many churches in France are dedicated to obscure saints, the church at Azay-le-Rideau is one such example. St. Symphorian of Autun was beheaded, while still a young man, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. His mother, the Blessed Augusta, encouraged him in his faith that was the reason for his execution, 22.August.178. The 22nd of August is Our Saint’s feast day.

    Although the village church, dedicated to Saint Symphorien, has been protected as un monument historique since 1908, it is unlikely that the government ever owned it. Partly Romanesque and partly Gothic, it stands near the château, but outside its grounds. Its design incorporates several architectural periods. The years of its construction include the ninth century, the second quarter of the 11th century; the first quarter of the16th century; the first quarter of the17th century. The church formerly belonged to the priory-parish whose other buildings, bought by the Marquis de Biencourt following the Revolution, were demolished to allow for the enlargement of the château’s grounds.

    Its newest section dates from 1603; but the oldest part of the church, part of the ninth century façade, is incorporated into the present façade. High above the Roman-arched center door the central figure of Christ flanked by saints, including St-Symphorien, carved in the Carolingian style, can be seen; these small low-relief figures attract the most interest. The rest of the church is of a Romanesque style. The nave (see photo #3) was built in the 11th and 12th centuries on top of 10th century elements that are still visible today.

    Within the church is a memorial to Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc, the Patroness of France (see photo #4). It was the future Charles VII, who as le Dauphin ordered this town burn to the ground, that Our Saint would convince to be crowned king and help defeat the occupying English. Charles first met Jeanne at Chinon, not far from Azay-le-Rideau.

    There are some rather modern stained glass windows in the church. One shows the Blessed Virgin being crowned Queen of Heaven (see photo #5).

    The church is open daily, 09.00 to 19.00.

    Egilse Paroissiale Saint Symphorien, July 2008 Egilse Paroissiale Saint Symphorien, July 2008 Egilse Paroissiale Saint Symphorien, July 2008 Egilse Paroissiale Saint Symphorien, July 2008 Egilse Paroissiale Saint Symphorien, July 2008
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Its Staircase Part II

    by von.otter Updated Jan 17, 2009

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    “Azay-le-Rideau, and elsewhere dotted throughout the district of Touraine, the delightful chateaux of the nobility bear witness to the memorable times when Francis held his court on the banks of the Loire.”
    — from “The Story of the Art of Building” 1901 By Percy Leslie Waterhouse

    As you climb the castle’s staircase, look up and you will see several someones looking down at you! The ceiling is carved with wonderful portrait medallions of the kings and queens of France.

    You will also find on the ceiling the ‘B’ of the Marquis de Biencourt, owner of the château from 1791 to late 19th century.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Staircase Ceiling, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Staircase Ceiling, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Staircase Ceiling, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Staircase Ceiling, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Staircase Ceiling, 07/08
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Its Interiors, Part III

    by von.otter Written Jan 17, 2009

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    Le Salon Biencourt, Photos #1 to #3
    The windows, decorated with 16th and 17th century stained glass, open onto the river and the park, created by the Marquis de Biencourt. The large paintings and royal portraits date from the Valois dynasty, when much of the castle’s construction was completed.

    La Salle de Billard, Photos #4 & #5
    The Billiard Room is decorated with mid-16th century Flemish tapestries; within their large and luxuriant borders small Biblical scenes are depicted.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salon Biencourt, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salon Biencourt, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salon Biencourt, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salle de Billard, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salle de Billard, 07/08
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Its Interiors, Part II

    by von.otter Written Jan 17, 2009

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    La Grande Salle, Photo #1
    Here in the Great Hall balls and feasts were held. Over the monumental fireplace is the symbol of François I, the salamander; also the molding of curling foliage gives a hint at what the decoration of this room was like before much of it was removed. Also some beautiful tapestries of the 16th and 17th centuries are displayed here.

    La Grande Chambre, Photo #2
    This bedroom was occupied by Louis XIII in 1619 when he visited Françoise de Souvré, future governess to the king’s sons, Louis (the future Sun King) and his brother Philippe, duc d’Orléan. The late 17th century bed has a suspended canopy.

    La Chambre du Maître-de-maison, Photo #3 & Photo #4
    The tapestries and furniture in this room, most notably the cabinet with the sculpted doors, indicate the attraction for works of the Italian Renaissance by 16th century courtiers.

    La Bibliothèque, Photo #5
    In the library the chimney decoration is made of marble and painted cloth. Here, also on view, are engravings of the plans the marquis de Biencourt had for the grounds in the 19th century.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Grande Salle, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Grande Chambre, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Ma��tre-de-Maison, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Ma��tre-de-Maison, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, La Biblioth��que, 07/08
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Its Interiors, Part I

    by von.otter Written Jan 17, 2009

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    L’Antichambre
    This antechamber serves the flat that was reserved for the King. In this room there are several portraits of the kings of France who have visited the castle; François I, Henri III, Louis XIII (photo #3), and his son Louis XIV (photos #1 & #2), over the fireplace. Its red curtains and furniture also recall why this is such a grand castle. The red and gold wall covering reveals how grand the castle once was.

    The Windows
    The some of the leaded glass windows in the castle are beautifully decorated with delicate stained glass panes. Photos #4 & #5 show scenes from Christ’s Passion: #4 is Christ at the Column and #5 is the Crucifixion.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, L���Antichambre, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, L���Antichambre, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, L���Antichambre, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, July 2008
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau: Its Chapel

    by von.otter Updated Jan 17, 2009

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    “The last priest in our country who theologically kept a woman in his parsonage, regaling her with his scholastic love, was a certain vicar of Azay-le-Ridel, a place later on most aptly named as Azay-le-Brulé, and now Azay-le-Rideau, whose castle is one of the marvels of Touraine.”
    — from the short story, “The Vicar of Azay-le-Rideau,” 1832 by Honore de Balzac

    Every château has a chapel; Azay-le-Rideau is no exception. Sometimes the chapel is incorporated within the main château, as it is at Chenonceau and Chambord. Other times, as here at Azay-le-Rideau, its 12th century chapel is a separate building. The door was locked blocking our entry, and the interior was so dark as to prohibit seeing any detail.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Its Chapel, July 20008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Its Chapel, July 20008
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Its Staircase Part I

    by von.otter Written Jan 15, 2009

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    “Francis I and Louis XIV often came to Azay-le-Rideau, and it is easy to imagine they must have brought charming company with them.”
    — from “Churches and Castles of Mediæval France” 1895 by Walter Cranston Larned (1850-1914)

    Mr. Larned was mistaken; François I visited the castle only once. Because the château is so beautiful it is easy to imagine the king, a great patron of the arts, including architecture, visiting many times to appreciate how lovely the place is.

    One of the most innovative and interest features of this castle’s interior is its staircase.

    Its exterior decorates the central portion of the façade that faces the Cour d’Honoure. Its landings are open to the out-of-doors and the ornate landing ceilings can be seen from outside (see photo #2).

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Stairs Exterior, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Stairs Exterior, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Stairs Interior, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Stairs Interior, 07/08 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Stairs Interior, 07/08
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Salamanders & Ermines, 2

    by von.otter Updated Jan 15, 2009

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    “A court without women, it is like a garden without flowers.”
    — François I (1494-1547)

    Although François I confiscated Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, it was never an official royal residence. The king visited once. The explanation for the many salamanders, the emblem of François that decorate the castle, could be flattery. By picturing the diminutive lizard throughout the château the king might be happy and overlook the financial transgressions of Gilles Berthelot, the castle’s owner; it did not work.

    Magnificently carved salamanders and more humble ones can be seen over the front door and fireplaces. He chose the amphibian because of the long-held misconception about the creature’s ability to resist and conjure fire; therefore the king adopted it as a symbol of invincibility. François thought of fire as a metaphor for war, the manipulation of fire represented his ability to control the waging of war.

    The ermine, the emblem of François’s queen Claude, is among the only creatures that mates for life. As long as Claude was alive, François paired his salamander with her ermine, as if they were partners for life, which they were according their marriage vows; but François had the roving eye and he did have mistresses.

    During his reign, François kept two official mistresses at court. He was the first king to give these fortunate ladies the title, maîtresse-en-titre, “official royal mistress.” The first official mistress to hold the title was Françoise de Foix, Comtesse de Châteaubriand. Not only was the king cheating on his wife with an official mistress, he was cheating on the mistress with other mistresses. Among these lesser mistresses was Mary Boleyn, sister of Henry VIII’s future wife, Anne Boleyn.

    In 1526, two years after Queen Claude’s death and four years before François’s second marriage to Eleanor of Austria, a sister of the Emperor Charles V, Françoise de Foix was replaced by the blonde-haired Anne de Pisseleu d’Heilly, Duchesse d’Étampes (1508-1580) as maîtresse-en-titre.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander & Ermine Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander & Ermine Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander, July 2008
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Salamanders & Ermines, 1

    by von.otter Updated Jan 15, 2009

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    “Nutrisco et extinguo” (“I am nourished by good and I extinguish evil.”)
    — the motto of François I

    NO MODEST FELLOW Kings do not have to be modest, and Francis the First was not; he adopted the salamander as his personal emblem.

    The word salamander is Persian in origin: sam, meaning fire, and andarun, meaning within. Many salamanders live inside rotting logs. When the log was placed into a fire, the salamander would attempt to escape, leading to the belief that salamanders were created from flames — thus the creature’s name.

    Claude of France (1499-1524) was duchesse de Bretagne as well as François’s queen. She was the eldest daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, duchesse de Bretagne. Pierre de Dreux introduced the ermine as the heraldic symbol for the Duchy of Brittany. As a symbol of purity the ermine suited Brittany because the duchy prided itself as a pure region, untouched by outside influences, independent. It appeared for the first time on a seal in 1318. A 10th-century Breton duke was inspired to defeat the attacking Vikings after seeing an ermine, which was being chased by a fox, turn and attack the larger animal. A chivalric order, the Order of the Ermine, was established by Jean, duc de Bretagne in 1381.

    There are many examples of François’s salamander and of Claude’s ermine at the castle.

    The salamander and the ermine are sculpted over the front door (see photos #1 and #2); also both creatures can be seen in the vaulted ceiling of the Grand Staircase landings (see photo #5).

    Above the grand fireplace (see photo #3) in the Biencourt Salon another salamander appropriately breathes fire.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Ermines, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander, July 2008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Salamander/Ermine, 07/08
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    Château d’Azay-le-Rideau: Its Coat of Arms

    by von.otter Updated Jan 13, 2009

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    “Azay-le-Rideau is the most brilliant expression of the French Renaissance, the most striking examples of the application of our ancient national art.”
    — Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879)

    Along Victor Hugo, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc helped to raise awareness among their fellow French citizens about the sorry state of repair of the country’s architectural masterpieces. Viollet-le-Duc carried out much-needed renovations to Notre-Dame de Paris in the 19th century.

    Two examples of coat-of-arms were found a the castle.

    The crowned lion belonged to the Marquis de Biencourt, who bought the château in 1791 and whose family owned it until the late 19th century.

    The other shield the blue eagles on a gold field is the coat-of-arms of the town of Azay-le-Rideau.

    Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Coat-of-Arms, July 20008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Coat-of-Arms, July 20008 Ch��teau d���Azay-le-Rideau, Indoor Lion, July 20008
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