Less than 200 km south of Paris, nestling between the cities of Tours and Blois, is a haven of poetry. Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire welcomes you all year round to its château and park. A natural oasis on a headland stretching out 40 metres above the wild Loire. Whatever the season, the château, once the home of Catherine de Medici, Diane de Poitiers and Princess de Broglie, beckons you indoors to admire its cosy and lavishly furnished interiors, which have been hugely embellished over recent years.
Installations by an array of contemporary artists in the château and along the footpaths of the park will catch you by surprise, captivate and inspire you. In 2015, 15 new artists are taking over the Estate, its grounds and outbuildings: the château has been graced with Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco’s “phantom flowers” and Swiss artists Gerda Steiner’s & Jörg Lenzlinger’s surrealist hanging garden, the Stable Ring sports a spectacular installation by the Brazilian Tunga and the Le Fenil Gallery is adorned with an exceptional wall hanging by the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui. Go for a wander around the Historical Park to see the gossamer installations by German artist Cornelia Konrads, the “River Constellation” by French artist Christian Lapie and the tree knight by Finnish artist Antti Laitinen. Highly acclaimed photographers including Edward Burtynsky, Naoya Hatakeyama and Alex MacLean shed light on the ravages of human action on nature through stunningly beautiful images, while Mélik Ohanian, Xavier Zimmermann and JeanChristophe Ballot unveil the pictorial splendour of trees from here and elsewhere.
The International Garden Festival has been providing a unique panorama of landscape design all over the world since 1992. At the same time a source of ideas and a nursery for talent, the Festival gives an extra boost to the art of gardens and gains the interest of both the public and those in the trade by displaying new flower arrangements, new materials, new ideas and new approaches.
The fortress of Chaumont-sur-Loire was built around the year 1000 to keep watch over the border between the counties of Blois and Anjou. In 1465, Louis XI had the château burned and razed to the ground, but it was rebuilt just a few years later. It was owned by the Amboise family for a good 500 years, and it was Charles II d’Amboise who turned it into an ornamental château in the Renaissance style, with sculpted decoration becoming the major feature of its outer façades.
Catherine de’ Medici acquired the estate in 1550, but did not have any major work done on it, foisting it on Diane de Poitiers in 1560. It was the latter, the King’s former mistress, who ordered the work that gave the château its present physiognomy, including the wall-walks and drawbridge gate.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Leray ordered the destruction of the north wing, so opening up an unparalleled view of the Loire. He played host to the Italian sculptor Jean-Baptiste Nini, and the château now boasts France’s finest collection of the famous sculptor’s “one-off” medallions.
Princess Marie-Charlotte de Broglie purchased the château in 1875, decorated its rooms with Renaissance furniture, and herself oversaw all the work required to make the residence worthy of the great receptions she was to host there. The architect Paul-Ernest Sanson was put in charge of the project, also designing the luxurious stables, while the architect Marcel Boille was responsible for building the estate’s model farm.
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