Azay-le-Rideau is a charming small town of some 3,500 people located on the Indre River in the core of the Loire valley in northwestern France. I feel that it captures the attractions of the region as a whole. The town itself is picturesque with old narrow streets, handsome stone buildings, and rich vegetation. It also boasts one of the Loire’s most attractive chateaux, although not on the grand scale of Chinonceau or Chambord. Dating from the early sixteenth century, the chateau is known for its facade, staircase, tapestries and portraits. It is a renaissance masterpiece that integrates French and Italian styles. Looking at this splendour in an idyllic rural environment, it is hard to imagine that it was created from the ashes of an earlier chateau that was burnt by forces of Charles VII in 1418 along with the execution of 350 Burgundy soldiers. After changing family ownership several times, the French government bought by the chateau in 1905 and it is now managed by theNational Monuments Centre.
I made these photographs on a visit in April 2013. They are presented close to the order in which they were taken, starting from the car park on the south side of the river. With our friends Anver and Masuma, Gladys and I crossed the old bridge and strolled through the town to the Chateau. After exploring the grounds, I moved through the building and recorded the various rooms, furniture and other objects of interest. After lunch, we walked through the central part of the town before heading to Chinon. In total, this was only a few hours of our time in the Loire valley, but it was indeed a highlight and one the many reasons to return.