Château de Chenonceaux, Chenonceaux
Tel: 33 2 47 23 90 07
Concierge.com's insider take:
Stretching across the Cher River, 21 miles southeast of Tours, the Château de Chenonceaux is indisputably the most beautiful and the most photographed of all the Renaissance châteaux. During World War II, the river marked the boundary between free and occupied France, so the château and its drawbridge became an important escape route. Its history has been dominated by powerful women: The original design was supervised by Catherine Briçonnet, then added to by Diane de Poitiers (mistress of Henri II) and, later, Catherine de' Medici (widow of Henri II), who turned what had been simply a bridge across the Cher into the 197-foot-long Grande Galerie. During the French Revolution, the château was saved from ruin by George Sand's grandmother. Since the early 20th century, it has belonged to the Menier family, manufacturers of the superior cooking chocolate.