A visitor's guide to the Chateau of Chaumont
Located in the Loire Valley region, Chateau de Chaumont is one of the largest and most popular of the many medieval castles dotted throughout the region. The Chateau towers over the village of Chaumont-sur Loire on the banks of the Loire River and is located approximately 12 miles from the town of Blois.
The Chateau de Chaumont was originally built by the Count of Blois, Eudes II, in the 10th century to protect the town of Blois and its surrounds from the attacks of hostile rivals from Anjou. After the fort was burned down in 1465 it was rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise and completed by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont, with some Renaissance features although still predominantly medieval in appearance. Built on 21 hectares, the property boasts finely landscaped gardens, a courtyard, stables and stunning views of the River Loire and valley below.
In 1650, Catherine de Medici purchased the castle after the passing of her husband Henry II. Records indicate that she hosted frequent parties at the chateau, entertaining famous guests including the astrologer Nostradamus. After only a short time at the castle, she forced her late husband's former mistress, Diane de Poitiers to exchange the Château de Chenonceau for the Château de Chaumont. De Poitiers resided at Chaumont for only a short period, passing the property onto her husband Vicomte de Turenne following the death of her grand-daughter in 1594.
The chateau went through a long succession of owners after de Turenne sold it to farmer Largentier who was later arrested, which saw the property passed onto a family at Lucca who in turn passed the property on via family connections to Seigneurs de Ruffignac.
The interiors of the castle were modernised after the Duc de Beavillier's purchased it in 1699, however his heavily indebted heir sold Chaumont to Monsieur Bertin, a high-level judicial officer from the court of Louis XV, who further renovated the property by demolishing the north wing to open the residence up to the view of the river.
The castle become home to a glassmaking and pottery factory after it was purchased by Jacques-Donatien Le Ray in 1750, however due to the new owner's pro-revolutionary stance the new government seized the chateau and all of his other assets in 1789. The castle then came under the ownership of Madame de Staël in 1810 but was left to languish, leading to extensive renovation and restoration work to be undertaken upon Comte d'Aramon's purchase of the chateau in 1833. The stables were built then further restoration and landscaping of the chateau were carried out after Marie-Charlotte Say acquired the castle in 1875.
The French Ministry of Culture declared the side as a Monument historique in1840. The French Government regained ownership of the castle in 1938. Nowadays, the Château de Chaumont serves as a museum and hosts an annual garden festival from April to October, displaying the work of contemporary garden designers.