How to Visit Chateau de Chenonceau: Getting There, Best Things to See, and More!

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When one dreams of visiting the Loire Valley in France, inevitably, Chateau de Chenonceau is at the top of the list of castles to visit! With its intricate gardens, stunning architecture that spans the River Cher, and rich history, you’ll certainly want to add Chateau de Chenonceau to your French castle bucket list!

I’ve visited Chateau de Chenonceau twice during my travels in France. Once on a group tour from Paris and another while on a road trip through the Loire Valley. And after many visits to castles in the Loire Valley, I can honestly say that this one is the best!

To help you prepare for your visit to Chateau de Chenonceau, I’ve got all the details including getting there, the best things to do at Chateau de Chenonceau, history, and more!

Loire Valley Itinerary in 3 Days | Chateau de Chenonceau Wide Angle

Chateau de Chenonceau History

The origins of Chateau de Chenonceau began in the 13th century when the Marques family owned the fief of Chenonceau. However, this chateau was destroyed and a new chateau was built here in the 1430s.

In 1513, Pierre Marques sold the chateau to Thomas Bohier (King Charles VIII’s Chamberlain). He pretty much tore most of it down and rebuilt a new home here between 1515-1521. 

However, in 1535, the chateau was taken over by King Francis I as payment for the owner’s debts. After King Francis I’s death, King Henry II gave it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers who loved the place and had the bridge commissioned as well as a large garden. 

Gardens at Chateau de Chenonceau 2

Then, when King Henry II died, his wife, Catherine de’ Medici pretty much forced Diane de Poitiers to give her the castle in exchange for Chateau de Chaumont. She also loved the place and had a garden added to the property. She also made the gallery.

The chateau passed hands over the years to people including Louise Dupin, where she hosted a literary salon. 

Chateau de Chenonceau even played roles in WWI as a hospital ward, and in WWII as a place where people could cross the river into the free zone and escape the Nazis. However, it did become occupied by the Germans and was bombed by both Germans and Allies, suffering some damage. 

Today, it has been restored and is absolutely fabulous with its bridge gallery, stunning architecture, lovely rooms, and even the fun Marques Tower. 

Tower at Chateau de Chenonceau

Why is Chateau de Chenonceau Known as the “Lady Castle”?

Another reason to love Chateau de Chenonceau is the fact that strong women played a role in the development, beautification, and even protection of this magnificent place. Here is a brief history of the women of Chenonceau Castle.

  • Katherine Briconnet (1494-1526): Thomas Bohier’s wife, who saw much of the construction and beautification of the place. 
  • Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566): Given this castle by her lover, King Henry II. She loved this castle dearly and was sad to give it up when forced to after King Henry II’s death. She created the stunning flower garden to the left of the castle and the bridge over the River Cher.
  • Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589): Took over Chenonceau after her husband’s death. She had the garden to the right of the castle created and made the bridge into a magnificent 2-story gallery. 
Gallery at Chateau de Chenonceau
  • Louise of Lorraine (1553-1601): Catherine de’ Medici’s daughter-in-law, and owner of the chateau after Catherine’s death. She was the last royal to live at Chenonceau. 
  • Louise Dupin (1706-1799): Hosted a salon with writers, poets, scientists, and philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment. She saved the chateau during the French Revolution as she said it was essential to travel and commerce, being the only bridge crossing the river for miles.
  • Marguerite Pelouze (1836-1902): Spent a lot of money restoring the estate to the time of Diane de Poitiers. However, she drained her finances doing this and throwing lavish parties. So the chateau was sold. 
  • Simonne Menier (1881-1972): She was in charge of the hospital in the galleries here during WWI. There were up to 2,000 people treated here. She also helped the resistance during WWII. 

As you can see, many brilliant women either came into possession of this chateau and/or helped make it what it is today. 

These women absolutely loved the castle and it isn’t hard to see why. It truly is the most scenic and spectacular of the chateaux in the Loire Valley. 

How to Visit Chateau de Chenonceau

Pink flowers at Chateau de Chenonceau

There are quite a few ways to get to experience the beauty of Chateau de Chenonceau. There is the option to self-drive, take a tour, or even take the train in. Here are the options outlined below.


This is the easiest way to see Chateau de Chenonceau on your own time. Here you can spend as much time as you like here, exploring all the nooks and crannies of the estate and taking photos. 

This is what I did on my last visit, as I was on a road trip in the Loire Valley for several days. We stopped here for the morning/early afternoon and then went into Amboise for a wine tasting later in the day. 

If you are self-driving, chances are you’re going to need a car. I like to check Auto Europe for the best rental car prices. On this last trip, I ended up renting a car from Paris Gare de Lyon and driving out to the Loire Valley. 

From Paris, It is about 2 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours to get to Chateau de Chenonceau depending on traffic. So you could potentially do this as a day trip on your own if you wish. 

Or you can include this in your Loire Valley trip. From places like Tours, it is about 30 minutes away, from Amboise, it is only about 15 minutes away, from Blois, it is about 45 minutes away, and from Orleans, it is about 1.5 hours away. 

Book a rental car here!

Kat and Chateau de Chenonceau 3

Train to Chateau de Chenonceau

While I wouldn’t normally recommend taking a train for a day trip to the Loire Valley from Paris, you could take a train from Paris and see it. 

Thankfully, there is a Chateau de Chenonceau train station called Chenonceaux, which is close to the entrance to the chateau. 

You’ll have to trek out to Paris Massy TGV station and then take the train there with a stop somewhere along the way. This can take about 2 hours or so each way from the train station. If you’re planning to spend a full day going to Chenonceau and back, this could work. 

However, if you’re staying in a city like Orleans, Amboise, or Tours, it’ll be much easier to see via train. From Amboise, it is a little over an hour via train, from Tours, it is about 30 minutes away, and from Orleans, it is about 2 hours away. 

Tours to Chateau de Chenonceau

Alice and Kat in front of Chateau de Chenonceau

There are ample tours that you can take that include stops at Chateau de Chenonceau among other lovely chateaux in the region. Whether you’re coming from Paris or the Loire Valley, you can enjoy these tours. 

This is easily the best option if you’re planning to do a day trip from Paris, as they handle all the logistics while you sit back and relax. Plus, many tours include a lot of history and context to learn more about the chateaux you’re visiting! 

Here are some great tours from Paris:

My first time visiting Chateau de Chenonceau I went on a day tour from Paris. It was a full-day tour that included stops at Chateau de Chambord, a smaller chateau for lunch and wine tasting at Chateau de Nitray, and ended with a visit to Chateau de Chenonceau. 

Kat frolicking in front of Chateau de Chenonceau

It was such an epic day! Sadly, this tour is no longer offered, which is why I have selected a few above to check out from Paris. 

I really enjoyed taking a day trip from Paris to the Loire Valley to explore the fairytale-like castles and the wine of the area. In my opinion, a day trip to Chateau de Chenonceau and other chateaux is amazing! 

Here are some great tours from Tours in the Loire Valley:

For an epic way to spend sunrise or sunset, you can book a hot air balloon ride near Chateau de Chenonceau. This also includes a wine tasting! Book it here! Note this doesn’t include a visit to the chateau.

Another great way to enjoy the views of Chenonceau would be to canoe under the chateau on the River Cher! We were supposed to do that during our visit to the Loire Valley, but the flooding made it impossible to do. If you want to do that, you can check out the routes here! Note this doesn’t include a visit to the chateau.

Okay, now that you know how to visit Chateau de Chenonceau, let’s talk about things to do!

Best Things to Do at Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau 1

This sprawling estate is certainly more than its chateau. With immense gardens, a winery, and places to eat, you can truly spend an entire day here just exploring! 

Here are the best things to do at Chateau de Chenonceau. 

1. Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau 8

Of course, while you’re here, you’re going to want to explore the chateau itself. There are many buildings on the property, but the main chateau is the one that crosses the River Cher itself. 

There are several rooms to explore within the chateau itself including:

  • The Guard’s Room: Where the guards were stationed. This room includes things like the Thomas Bohier coat of arms and 16th-century Flanders tapestries. 
  • The Chapel: Saved by Madame Dupin during the French Revolution and has several paintings and beautiful stained glass windows. The original stained glass was destroyed in WWII. The stained glass here is from the 1950s. 
  • Diane de Poitiers’ Bedroom: The former mistress’s bedroom which has a 4-poster bed, fireplace, and a portrait of Diane herself. There are also 16th-century Flanders tapestries. 
Blue bedroom Chateau de Chenonceau
  • The Green Study: Catherine de’ Medici’s study and where she ruled France as regent. 
  • The Library: A smaller room where Catherine de’ Medici had her desk. It has a magnificent view of the river. 
  • The Gallery: Probably the most iconic part of the Chenonceau Castle structure. This crosses over the Cher River and has iconic views. 
  • The Kitchens: This is really cool to see! These show the old kitchens which are actually located in the bases of the bridge over the Cher River.
Kitchens at Chateau de Chenonceau
  • Francois I’s Drawing Room: This beautiful room has many paintings, including a portrait of Diane de Poitiers as Diane the Huntress. 
  • Louis XIV’s Drawing Room: Red room with a lovely Renaissance fireplace and has many 18th-century paintings including a portrait of King Louis XV and Philip V, the King of Spain and grandson to Louis XIV. 
  • Katherine Briconnet’s Hall: Several Audenarde tapestries and has a balcony overlooking the Marques Tower and the two main gardens.
  • The Five Queen’s Bedroom: Named for Catherine de’ Medici’s 2 daughters and 3 daughters-in-law and contains a Renaissance fireplace and 16th-century Flanders tapestries. 
  • Catherine de’ Medici’s Bedroom: The bedroom of Catherine de’ Medici has a 4-poster bed, Flanders tapestries, and a beautiful fireplace. 
  • The Exhibition Rooms: Two small apartments which have beautiful architecture and art of the Chateau.
  • Medici Gallery: This gallery showcases art and shares how the chateau was built. There is also a biographical display of the many ladies of this castle.
  • Cesar of Vendome’s Bedroom:  Named for Cesar Duke of Vendome, the son of King Henri IV. This room contains a 4-poster bed, a Renaissance fireplace, and 17th-century Brussels tapestries.
  • Gabrielle d’Estrees Bedroom: Named for the love of King Henry IV and mother to his son Cesar of Vendome. This room contains a 4-poster bed, a 16th-century Flanders tapestry, a 17th-century Brussels tapestry, and a Renaissance fireplace and furniture. 
Bedroom in Chateau de Chenonceau
  • Second-Floor Hall: Enjoy the lovely 16th-century Oudenaarde tapestry as well as works depicting Chateau de Chenonceau. 
  • Louise of Lorraine’s Bedroom: The bedroom of Loise of Lorraine, the wife of King Henry III. 

The chateau is actually quite large and takes about an hour or so to actually visit and enjoy the sites. 

2. Marques Tower

Views overlooking garden at Chateau de Chenonceau

This is the only thing remaining of the original castle from the Marques family. However, it was restored in the Renaissance style. 

3. Forecourt

This is laid out like the former Medieval fortress surrounded by moats. 

4. Diane’s Garden

Gardens at Chateau de Chenonceau 4

Diane de Poitiers’ Garden is by far my favorite garden to see here! The layout of the flowerbed is actually quite similar to how it was back in Diane’s day. The garden has stunning swirling designs and the views of the Chateau from the garden are lovely too. 

Plus, there are flowers and small trees throughout. When we went, we were lucky enough to spot several roses and lady’s gloves, amongst many other flowers. It smelled so good here! 

Plus, along the river, there are plenty of great places to take photos of the chateau crossing the river and get photos in front of the chateau. 

5. Catherine’s Garden

Fountain at Chateau de Chenonceau

Catherine’s Garden is also very lovely, and it is a little smaller and cozier. This garden has lovely shrubs, several roses along the wall, and a little circular pond. 

6. Green Garden

This is another lovely garden to check out with many shade trees. 

7. Russell Page Garden

This opened in 2018 and pays homage to the landscape gardener, Russell Page. He created drawings of this garden for the Menier Family here, but they were never actually created until now. Sculptor Francois Xavier Lalanne created animal sculptures throughout the garden. 

8. Vegetable and Flower Garden

There are 12 square plots with apple trees on the border and Queen Elizabeth rose bushes. The flowers grown here are for the floral displays around the chateau. 

9. The Maze

Want to enjoy an Italian hedge maze? You can explore the maze here! 

10. Queen’s Apothecary

Pharmacie at Chateau de Chenonceau

Located in the Domes Building, you can visit the apothecary of Catherine de’ Medici.

11. Domes Wine Cellar

Chateau de Chenonceau vineyard

Did you know that you can have a wine tasting while here? Yes, Chateau de Chenonceau has produced wine for centuries and has a 16th-century cellar.  Here you can taste local Loire Valley wines!

12. Carriage Gallery

This contains a collection of noble and rural horse-drawn carriages and is located in the stable of the 16th-century farm.

13. 16th-Century Farm

Here you can see the floral workshop as well as old buildings from the 16th century. 

14. Donkey Park

Spot the adorable resident donkeys at Chateau de Chenonceau. Sadly, they were not there during our visit!

How to Spend 1 Day at Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, France

Kat at Chateau de Chenonceau 7

Okay, if you’re coming here on a day trip, chances are that you likely won’t have time to see all of this. 

I know this because we only had a couple of hours here when we went on our day trip several years ago. While a wine tasting was included in our ticket during our tour, we ended up spending the 2 hours exploring mainly the chateau itself and Diane de Poitiers’ Garden. 

But, if you want to see and experience most of Chateau de Chenonceau, you’ll likely want most of the day. So here is how to have the perfect day at Chateau de Chenonceau. 

You’ll start out by arriving around 10 am and exploring the gardens first before they get busier as the day goes on. 

Start out admiring the views and flowers at Catherine de’ Medici’s Garden before wandering over to Diane de Poitiers’ Garden. Here, you can snap photos of yourself with the chateau in the background, admire the bridge crossing the River Cher, and stroll past stunning and fragrant flowers. 

Entrance to Chateau de Chenonceau 3

After that, it is time to spend an hour or so exploring the chateau. There is a whole path to follow during your visit, and you’ll be able to see several rooms, galleries, halls, etc. I particularly enjoyed the main Gallery as well as the Medici Gallery with information about the chateau and the ladies. 

The balcony was also a lot of fun as you can enjoy views of the Marques Tower, the Forecourt, as well as the gardens. 

Then, it is time for lunch! Luckily, there are a few places to grab a quick bite to eat and relax during your time wandering around Chateau de Chenonceau. 

After lunch, it is time to explore the Queen’s Apothecary and perhaps have a wine tasting at the Domes Wine Cellar

From there, you can explore the other gardens, the Carriage Gallery, 16th-Century Farm, and Donkey Park as you make your way back to the parking lot to continue on your day. 

You could seriously spend the whole day from 10 am-4:30 pm exploring Chateau de Chenonceau in depth. 

Kat at Chateau de Chenonceau 4

During our day there, we arrived around 10 am, explored the main gardens of Catherine de’ Medici and Diane de Poitiers, went in the chateau, ate lunch, checked out the apothecary, wandered around some other gardens, and then walked to the Donkey Park before leaving. 

As we had a wine tasting in Amboise at 4 pm, we left around 3:30 pm to enjoy a tasting and tour at Caves Ambacia. Then, we grabbed drinks in Amboise at a wine bar before a lovely dinner. 

So you could spend most of the day and thoroughly see everything at Chateau de Chenonceau, or you could do as we did and see most of it and then head into Amboise for wine tasting, exploring, and dinner. 

Chateau de Chenonceau Opening Times

Stables at Chateau de Chenonceau

Hours vary depending on the time of year but here is it broken down:

  • January 1-7: 9:30 am-6 pm
  • January 8-April 5: 9:30 am-4:30 pm
  • April 6-July 7: 9 am-6 pm
  • July 8-August 25: 9 am-7 pm
  • August 26-Spetember 29: 9 am-6 pm
  • September 30-November 3: 9 am-5:30 pm
  • November 4-November 8: 9:30 am-4:30 pm
  • November 9-11: 9 am-5:30 pm
  • November 12-December 6: 9:30 am-4:30 pm
  • December 7-8: 9:30 am-5 pm
  • December 9-13: 9:30 am-4:30 pm
  • December 14-15: 9:30 am-5 pm
  • December 16-December 20: 9:30 am-4:30 pm
  • December 21-31: 9:30 am-6 pm
  • Holiday weekends from 9 am-7 pm

How Long to Visit Chateau de Chenonceau

View of Chateau de Chenonceau from the flower garden 2

This definitely varies by preference and how you’re visiting Chateau de Chenonceau. If you’re coming on a group tour, then you’re probably only looking at 1.5-2 hours. If this is the case, then definitely prioritize the chateau itself and Diane de Poitiers’ Garden.

If you have a little extra time, then check out Catherine de’ Medici’s Garden too. If you’ve got even more time, then why not have a wine tasting? 

However, if you really want to see the main sites of the chateau and estate, and you’re on your own, I’d opt to spend around 5-6 hours at Chateau de Chenonceau. 

Cost to Visit Chateau de Chenonceau

Kat in the gardens at Chateau de Chenonceau

Tickets to visit Chateau de Chenonceau include entrance to the chateau, gardens, galleries, and the Apothecary of the Queen.

Prices are as follows: 

  • Adults: €17
  • Children 7-18 years old, students, seniors 60+ years, unemployed, accompanying persons of disabled people, families with 3+ children between 7-18 years (each ticket is €14): €14
  • Children under 7 and Disabled people: Free

Be sure to book in advance to reserve your spot at the chateau! Book it here!

Note that you can book on Chateau de Chenonceau’s website and select your time slot for arrival. On Get Your Guide, you follow the instructions on the voucher.

When to Visit Chateau de Chenonceau

Gardens at Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau is one of the most visited chateaux in the Loire Valley. That being said, it can be quite crowded, especially on weekends, around school holidays, and during the summertime. 

As such, you’ll want to be sure to book tickets in advance during those times. And if you want to avoid the crowds, these are times to avoid. 

I visited in mid-May during the week and it really wasn’t busy at all. The weather was warm and sunny, and it was a lovely day for exploring! 

As you can see above, you can really visit year-round. However, I’d say winter is going to be the least scenic as the bushes, flowers, and trees won’t be blooming and pretty. 

I particularly enjoyed visiting in May when we did as the flowers were absolutely stunning! I would also imagine that the autumn months would be lovely with the changing leaves. 

So for decent weather (although this isn’t a guarantee by any means), pretty scenery, and fewer crowds, I’d opt for May and September-October during the week. 

Where to Stay Near Chateau de Chenonceau

Old town Amboise

If you’re planning to explore Chateau de Chenonceau during a getaway to the Loire Valley, here are some great hotels to check out nearby!

Chateau d’Artigny: If you’re exploring nearby chateaux, why not stay in one? This is a luxurious 5-star chateau with 56 rooms located within the castle or the Pavillon d’Ariane and the Cite des Parfums. This was the former chateau of Francois Coty, a famous perfumer, and was built during the Belle Epoque. Plus, this place has lovely rooms, a park, a restaurant, and a spa!

This chateau is only about 40 minutes from Chateau de Chenonceau.

Book it here!

Chateau de Beauvois: This chateau was originally built in the 15th century. It was partially destroyed during the French Revolution, but it has since been renovated after being purchased by La Maison Younan. There is a restaurant here as well as a bar and lounge, a pool, a tennis court, and a private park.

This is 53 minutes from Chateau de Chenonceau. 

Book it here! 

There is also the option to stay nearby in Amboise. Here are some ideas:

Chateau d'Amboise 3

Chateau de Pray: Again, this is another chateau hotel and is only about 17 minutes from Chateau de Chenonceau. This place features a Michelin restaurant, a wooded park, and a swimming pool. 

Book it here!

Hotel Le Pavillon des Lys: Located in Amboise, this charming hotel has lovely rooms and is within walking distance of many places in the town. It is about 16 minutes from Chateau de Chenonceau. 

Book it here!

This is the ultimate guide on how to visit and spend 1 day at Chateau de Chenonceau. Whether you’re coming in for a day or you want to make this a stop on an epic Loire Valley road trip, you’ll easily see why this is a popular chateau in this part of France!

Want more France travel ideas? Check out these posts!


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