Azay Le Rideau

Azay le Rideau, at the heart of the ancient Touraine area of France, today finds itself in the department of Indre et Loire, and makes up part of the regional natural park of Loire-Anjou-Touraine.

The superb 15th century Renaissance chateau replaces an earlier fortress, in ruins when Gilles Berthelot, the King's Treasurer, bought the domain. He had the older building demolished, then gave the responsibility of managing the project to his wife, Philippa Lesbahy.


For six years the workers strove both night and day to create this magnificent construction; made more complicated by its design, which required that the castle be built directly on the waters of the river Indre on three of its sides. The whole edifice is perched on wooden piles, with the stones between being brought by boat along the river.

After a financial scandal implicated Berthelot, king Francois I confiscated the castle even before it was finished, and gave it to another of his advisors. The building is now owned by the French state and is open to the public. An earlier visitor, the writer Balzac, greatly appreciated the castle's lavish decoration.

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