My FAVORITE place on earth–the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley on the River Cher in France. This fairytale castle captured my heart and imagination forty years ago and draws me back often. My most recent visit took place in July. My heart dances at the thought of it.
Built in the 16th century, this “small” rather magical place has housed many flamboyant characters from kings and queens to mistresses and philosophers. The stories vibrate from the tapestries, paneled rooms, tiled floors, stone staircases, and treasures displayed throughout the rooms.
And oh, the stories going around in my head! One will become a novel, a part of my Gardens in Time Series (yet to be published.) Book #3 will take place in Chenonceau during the Age of Enlightenment in France around 1750. The historical characters will be Louise Dupin who surrounded herself with poets, writers, scientists, and philosophers as well as those on the political scene. Her salon became infamous as a stage for debates and ideas prior to the American and French Revolutions.
The fictional characters of my novel will interact with those who question traditional authority and ways. Lisette, possibly the name of the heroine, has always lived on the farm connected with the castle and now supplies the flowers and ornamental foliage that perfumes the salons and enhance the guests’ experience. Christophe performs the role of a guard acting on behalf of the king keeping the grounds safe. How will their lives change as the ones within the walls of the castle deem it necessary to change the world? The gardens of the castle act as a perfect backdrop for intrigue, love, good food, beauty, secrets, peace, and dreams whether royalty or commoner, educated or illiterate.
Today the grounds of the Château de Chenonceau in France are a gardener’s delight. They have been maintained with their original structure and intent in place. Each time I visit there is more improvement and much more to explore. The formal gardens of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Médicis are manicured to perfection in all seasons. I explored the Labyrinth with my daughter as well as a huge garden divided into plots full of all the vegetation used for decorating the chateau. Hundreds of varieties of flowers, fruit, and vegetables occupy the area, giving the visitor a visual of what it might have been like a few centuries ago. Also, there is a 16th century farm complete with stables, houses, pond, and storage rooms.
My mind was overloaded with ideas and images as I walked on this historic ground one more time. I hope to write this novel soon and send it on its way.
Is there a place that you want as a setting for a novel? (I have so many!!)