Château de Chenonceau--page 4 (of 4 pages)

Philibert de l'Orme; Jean Bullant
15th century keep from original castle; 1515-1521; 1547; 1570-76

Plan from Wikipedia

The north facade is to the far left. While the exterior facade owes to 16th century Italianate architecture, the plan is thought to be very original. Notable is the long vestibule (12 feet by 68 feet) which traverses the structure, going from the front entrance (north) to the rear facade. This center hall plan allows direct access to the rooms on each side. Another unique feature is the orientation of the stairwell, mid way down the vestibule. And instead of the more usual spiral staircase, conventional in French architecture of this period, it uses the ramp format. In addition, the designer left a space between the staircase and the château's walls, allowing a passage between the two rooms on that side of the building.


This barrel vault is reinforced with parallel ribs with medallions at the intersections. The light at the end in the center photo is from the second story window in the central bay of the west side of the château (the window above the balcony window).

Ceiling, second floor vestibule


Center: Catherine de' Medici's bedchamber;
right: the Chamber of the Five Queens, on the second floor

The five queens are Catherine's two daughters and three daughters-in-law.

Medici Gallery--first story; fireplace at end of this gallery

The galleries, superimposed, are almost 200 feet long and 19 feet wide. Eighteen windows provide ample light and tall, decorated fireplaces stand at the ends of both galleries.

Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud, frame by Lepautre;
one of the medallions of Roman emperors adorning the walls of the second floor vestibule

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Works cited or consulted:
Jean-Pierre Babelon. Chenonceau. Paris: Société Nouvelle Biro, 2002.
John McNeill. The Loire Valley. [Blue guide] London: A & C Black Limited, 1995.
"Chenonceau," Connaisance des Arts, 2001.

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© 2014 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.