Château de Chenonceau
It’s no secret that I’m quite passionate about fashion. After all, I do have this space that regularly allows me to highlight my love of all things sartorial. However, one of my other great interests is history. In fact, I graduated university with a degree in history and one of my goals is to eventually continue my education in the field. Ideally, I would love to obtain my Masters and PhD. I think Doctor WestmountFashionista has a nice ring to it, don’t you?
While my studies and research have largely been focused on some pretty heavy topics (the Holocaust and other instances of genocide), I’ve always been a sucker for the lighter side of European history. Give me the great love stories and turbulent love triangles of the kings and queens of Europe over a soap opera any day. In all honesty, they’re probably even more juicy then any plot line a soap might deliver. You’ve got dynastic machinations, glittering jewels, delusions of grandeur and world domination, epic romances, rollicking bed-hopping, and a smattering of in-breeding. Day’s of Our Lives who?
Obviously a visit to Château de Chenoncau was at the top of my Château list when Darling Husband and I took our French road trip. Affectionately known as the “Ladies Château” due to a history of female ownership, it’s nestled in the Loire Valley. The famed mistress of Henry II, Diane de Poitiers once called this jewel of a palace home (among a few other glittering properties) and it was a brick and mortar representation of Henry’s utter devotion and almost fanatical love of Diane. However, it was confiscated from her by Henry’s rather bitter wife Catherine de Medici upon his accidental death during a jousting tournament. Following Henry’s death, Diane was ousted not only from power and prominence (Henry had loved her fiercely and had favoured her tremendously over his wife thus making her enemy number one in the widowed Queen’s eyes) and Catherine set out to make Henry her’s even if it was in death. She took possession of Chenonceau and destroyed all of the reminders of Diane and Henry’s love and devotion. Notably, their custom cipher depicting the first letters of their names intertwined that had been worked into the decor and mouldings of the chateau. Although, to Catherine’s credit she had a grand gallery constructed over an existing bridge that would eventually act as a direct escape route out of Nazi occupied France into Free French territory during World War II. After changing hands a handful of times, it’s now a gorgeous museum that welcomes awed visitors to it and it’s grounds. To this day, visitors will see the intertwined letters of Henry and Catherine’s names worked into the interior. Wholly opposed in life but coupled in death. I told you history is better than any soap opera, didn’t I?