Chenonceaux, Château de Chenonceaux, bridging the Cher River, France. [Credit: Ray Manley—Shostal]village, Indre-et-Loire département, Centre région, west-central France, on the right bank of the Cher River. Chenonceaux is famous for its château, which bridges the Cher. Founded on the pilings of a mill in 1513 or 1515 by Thomas Bohier, financial minister in Normandy, the château was completed in 1522 and represents a type of architecture transitional between Gothic and Renaissance. An isolated tower flanking a drawbridge is part of an earlier building of the 15th century. The château was confiscated by Francis I in 1535. fter Francis' death in 1547, Henry II offered the château as a gift to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who became fervently attached to the château along the river. She would have the arched bridge constructed, joining the château to its opposite bank. She then oversaw the planting of extensive flower and vegetable gardens along with a variety of fruit trees. Set along the banks of the river, but buttressed from flooding by stone terraces, the exquisite gardens were laid out in four triangles.
Diane de Poitiers was the unquestioned mistress of the castle, but ownership remained with the crown until 1555, when years of delicate legal maneuvers finally yielded possession to her. However, after King Henry II died in 1559, his strong-willed widow and regent Catherine de' Medici had Diane expelled. Because the estate no longer belonged to the crown, she could not seize it outright, but forced Diane to exchange it for the Château Chaumont. Queen Catherine then made Chenonceau her own favorite residence, adding a new series of gardens.