Chateau Azay-le-Rideau

Written by on August 20, 2014 in Centre, Museums and Châteaux

Chateau-Azay-le-Rideau

Standing proud on an island in the middle of the Indre River, the exquisite little Château of Azay-le-Rideau was built between 1518 and 1527, during the reign of François I and is one of the most popular of the Loire Valley Chateaux.

Chateau Azay le Rideau History

azay chateau

It was one of the first of many Renaissance Chateaux that were constructed in the early part of the 16th Century and its owner Gilles Berthelot, the Mayor of Tours and Treasurer for Francois I, wanted his fabulous new home to combine the latest technical innovations from Italy and the best of the art of French architecture. He built it on the site of a much older chateau which had been burned down – that had been called Azay-le-Ridel after a local noble family and became over time, Rideau.

The result was an absolute star of a castle when it was built, elegant, beautiful, innovative and quite luxurious. Sadly Monsieur Berthelot learned a lesson about the jealousy of Kings (as would Fouquet, treasurer to Louis XIV over a century later when he built Vaux-le-Vicomte). Azay-le-Rideau was confiscated by King Francois when he felt the splendour of the chateau was evidence that his treasurer was pilfering funds from the royal coffers.

azay le rideau

Surrounded by parkland and forests, the beautiful Chateau Azay-le-Rideau is reflected in the mirror-like water in which it stands. The great French writer Honore de Balzac called it “a faceted diamond set in the Indre… it bathes in the River like a princely creature”.

When it was first built, the interior walls would have been adorned with tapestries and textiles as well as woven bulrushes. The inventory documents that have survived tell us about the decor, paintings and engravings from the period. These coverings warmed bedrooms up in winter and cooled them down in summer and at that time bulrushes were a popular material to cover floors and walls (much like seagrass rugs today). There are no surviving examples of this décor in France but one of the bedrooms at the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau has been restored in this style so that visitors can see an authentic 16th century bedroom for the first time in France.

The roof top of Azay-le-Rideau has also been restored and visitors are invited to mount the stairs, admire the 16th Century roof and drink in the spectacular views over the grounds.

azay le rideau town

The chateau is small compared to some of the major chateaux of the time and is built in an L shape. Inside the architectural details are impressive and there is a good collection of paintings and furniture. The interior is very much that of a castle in the French Renaissance  style. The staircase is richly sculptured, the rooms are decorated with tapestries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the furnishings and paintings are plentiful and reflect that the castle was updated and lived in through the 16th to the 19th Century.

When you’ve finished your visit and want a break, the town of Azay-le-Rideau in on the doorstep of the castle and is well worth a stop. It is very pretty, a typical sleepy Loire village and there are plenty of restaurants and cafés where you can take a break.

village of azay le rideau

See the Monument Nationaux Video of the Chateau Azay-le-Rideau.

Getting there: The Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau is located approximately 15 minutes from Tours by car. You can take a train from Paris to Tours and then a regional train to the station of Azay-le-Rideau, the journey takes between 2 – 2.5 hours.

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau address: Main entrance to the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau is in rue Pineau, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau opening hours: Open daily (except January 1, May 1 and December 25). October to March : 10 am to 5:15 pm; April to June and in September : 9:30 am to 6 pm; July and August : 9:30 am to 7 pm. Last admissions 1h before closing.

Useful website: Monuments-Nationaux – Azay le Rideau

More Loire Valley Chateaux:
Chateau de Chenonceau
Secret Chateaux of the Loire Valley 

holiday cottage in Azay-Le-Rideau, Loire Valley surrounded by gardens and palm trees

Where to stay Azay le Rideau: Lagrange Vacances Les Jardins Renaissance is located in Azay-le-Rideau, on the banks of the Indre and Loire rivers. The residence offers self-catering holiday cottages with furnished terrace and a small garden. Perfectly located just 800 meters from the centre of Azay-le-Rideau guests have access to heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and tennis courts. Hotel service available plus daily reception. It’s the perfect base for your Loire Valley visit…

Tags: ,

Related Articles

International Garden Festival Chaumont-sur-Loire

The International Garden Festival, Chaumont-sur-Loire is like Kew Gardens meets Chelsea flower show with French flair. There’s a stunning chateau thrown in for good measure, a fascinating history and some of the most gorgeous gardens in France. The magnificent gardens of Chaumont-sur-Loire Since 1992, the International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire has provided an inspiring introduction […]

Continue Reading

History of the Louvre Museum, Paris

The Louvre is the world’s most famous and largest fine arts museum. It’s home to the one of the most impressive art collections in history. It’s also the most visited museum of the world with a stonking 10 million visitors a year – but it wasn’t always this way. Once it was only for royalty […]

Continue Reading

Guide to Sancerre, Loire Valley

Guide to Sancerre, Loire Valley

Written by on March 18, 2020 in Centre

Sancerre is a beautiful, ancient hilltop village wine town. It’s located in the heart of France, in the department of Cher in an area known as Berry Province and you’d be hard put to find a more enchanting town anywhere in France… Maison des Sancerre The first place to head to is the Maison des […]

Continue Reading

Guide to the Chateau de Chantilly

Though France has plenty of Chateaux that impress, wow and take your breath away – some are more special than others. The Chateau de Chantilly in Picardy, a short journey from the centre of Paris, is one of them… Potted history of the Chateau of Chantilly Castles have stood for many centuries on the site […]

Continue Reading

The best museums in Dijon Burgundy

Dijon, capital of Burgundy, is a city of culture, history and exquisite architecture, a living museum in itself. There are so many cultural venues to visit, it’s hard to know where to begin. Surrounded by vineyards and stunning countryside, it really is an absolute jewel of a French city. Plus there are fabulous restaurants and wine […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top