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History of the gardens

Glory days are back in the Château de Chenonceau Gardens…

Perfect harmony between nature and architecture, it is by walking down its majestic driveway that you can really discover the magnificence of the Castle. The Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers gardens make the unique elegance of the landscape stand out, between the sky and the water.

From the Green Garden, designed by Bernard Palissy, to the Italian maze and the floral harmony of the garden...blows the spirit of Chenonceau. “Peace of mind” adds to “the aristocratic serenity”.

“The beauty of Chenonceau imposes itself like a relationship that “speaks to the heart”: the harmony between the sky, water, gardens and architecture appeals to every visitor, no matter what their cultural background.”

The castle has always been well taken care of and its gardens have been well maintained and embellished. The creation of a maze and a night walk revives the art of living in the gardens of XVI century.

Diane’s and Catherine’s times
Chenonceau’s gardens golden age.

When Diane de Poitiers received the gift of Chenonceau in 1547, she only found a modest garden, a rustic and confined space which was not suitable for the creation of a courtyard.

This is why major works were carried out over a period of 5 years that led to the creation of sumptuous beds currently known as the Garden of Diane de Poitiers. It is situated upstream from the Castle, on the right bank of the River Cher and protected from river floods by raised terraces.


A veritable theater of green covering over 12,000 m², the garden was originally designed according to a very simple plan. Two wide paths cross diagonally therefore creating four large triangles, each divided into triangular compartments by another two crossing paths.

At the time of its creation, the garden’s charm lay as much in its stage setting as in the choice of its plants: fruit trees, rustic shrubs, hawthorns and hazel trees, whilst the borders of the paths were sown with strawberry plants and violets.

Renowned Master gardeners have added their expert touch, such as the Archbishop of Tours and his vicar, Jean de Selve, friend and patron of Bernard Palissy. The centre of the garden is animated by a water-jet, recreated in 2002, which was, back at that time, a huge innovation.

Henri II, badly injured during a tournament, died on the 10 July 1559 before being able to unveil this marvelous decor. Diane had to hand over Chenonceau to the widowed queen Catherine de Medici who then tried to outshine the splendor of her rival’s achievements with spectacular parties, in honor of her sons.

In Catherine’s mind, Chenonceau was meant to become a King’s residence just like the Tuileries. 

She carried out monumental works. In the area just below the forecourt and the Keep of Marques, the queen created a garden of “wonders”, among the patches of flowers and shrubs, an aviary, a menagerie, a sheep barn, a man-made cave and the rock fountain …

Even today, the floral decoration in the gardens requires a lot of attention as it is renewed every spring and summer. 130,000 flower plants, all cultivated on the Estate, need to be planted out. The great French tradition of garden design can be rediscovered in the gardens of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici because that have preserved their original layout.