Thursday, February 11 at 12:00 p.m.
$8 Members / $15 Non-members
Online via Zoom · In English
12:00 p.m. (Chicago) • 1:00 p.m. (Miami) • 7:00 p.m. (Paris)
Our series inviting you to visit ten Grands Châteaux live from France continues! Today Russell Kelley will be in the company of fifth-generation owner Henri Menier as they explore the unique contribution of women to the history of the Château de Chenonceau.
The Château de Chenonceau is sometimes called the “château des Dames” because of the nearly uninterrupted series of women who built, embellished, protected, restored and saved it. In 1512, the medieval château was purchased by Thomas Bohier, a Treasury Superintendent under Francis I, who immediately demolished all the old buildings except the keep (donjon). Between 1513 and 1517, his wife Catherine Briçonnet oversaw the construction of the new building, next to the keep. In 1535, upon discovering the embezzlement of royal funds by his father, Francis I confiscated the château from Thomas Bohier’s son. In 1547, Francis I was succeeded by his son Henri II, who had married the formidable Catherine de Médicis in 1533. When Henri II became king, he gave the Château de Chenonceau to his favorite, Diane de Poitiers, who built the bridge with its five arches connecting the château to the north bank of the Cher. When Henri died following a jousting accident in Paris in 1559, Catherine promptly took possession of Chenonceau and added the two-story gallery that spans the river, causing Chenonceau sometimes to be called the “Ponte Vecchio of the Loire Valley.” Chenonceau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the most visited private château in France.
Henri Menier belongs to the fifth generation of his family to own the Château de Chenonceau since 1913.
A board member of the Alliance Française Miami Metro, Russell Kelley is the curator and moderator of the lecture series on the Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France. He is author of The Making of Paris: The Story of How Paris Evolved from a Fishing Village into the World’s Most Beautiful City, to be published by Globe Pequot Press in March 2021. He has lived in France for nearly 30 years and has visited every château featured in this series many times since his first visit to the Loire Valley 50 years ago.
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This program is presented in partnership with the Alliance Française Miami Metro with communication support from the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, the French Heritage Society, and WICE - Paris.
Through our Entrée Libre initiative, free admission to this program is offered to students enrolled in French Studies in universities and French schools in Chicago and the Midwest. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.