The essence of the monument
It was during the period of creative energy of the early years of the reign of François I that theChâteau of Azay was built. Located in Touraine, it is one of the string of prestigious châteaux of the Loire where, for a century, the Kings of France liked to stay.Built by Gilles Berthelot, a rich financier and member of the Touraine bourgeoisie, he displayedthe characteristic enthusiasm of the cultured upper classes for the Italian Renaissance. Thisedifice inaugurated the era of leisure residences that combined the charm of a French-stylechâteau with the majesty of an Italian palace. The water surrounding the château, the corner turrets and the circular walk along the external walls were architectural features taken from themedieval tradition. But the symmetrical distribution of the large openings gives the façades aregular appearance and reveals the influence of Italian architecture. The impressive staircase is afine example of the sumptuous sculpted décor that is the most prestigious feature of this piece of architecture. This light-filled, transparent space, which opens on to the courtyard of honour vialoggias and onto the attractive grounds on the other side via large bay windows, connects thechâteau to its location.In the 19th Century, the Marquis of Biencourt carried out some major work on the interior andexterior of the château. The two towers that now stand at the corners of the courtyard façade givethe château a unity of style that it did not previously enjoy. At the same time, the library and thelarge sitting room were redecorated in a neo-renaissance style. The site was itself redesigned intolarge landscaped grounds. To the South and West, two mirror-like lakes were created, in whichthe façades are reflected.Today, the interior offers an insight into life inside the building since the Renaissance, at varioustimes in its history.Several options for visiting the château and grounds are available: you may visit independently,or with a tour guide, participate in a conference tour or we can offer audio-guide handsets invarious languages. The château’s educational department can be used to help young visitorsunderstand and appreciate the building and its grounds via educational visits, discovery tours andheritage workshops lead by art and dance teachers, storytellers and musicians. During annualevents such as Monument Jeu d’Enfant or Monum Vert, various educational and artisticopportunities are available for children and families. During the year, concerts, exhibitions andother forms of artistic expression contribute to the cultural life of the monument.
It was in the creative environment of the first years of the reign of Francis I that the château of Azay-le-Rideau was built. In 1515, Gilles Berthelot, one of the new courtiers and governor-general of the kingdom’s finances, replaced the small fortified castle his father had bought bytwo large wings protected by branches of the Indre river. At the angles, elegant little towerssuspended over the water recall the woman who had inspired the house: Philippe Lesbahy, GillesBerthelot’s courageous wife who was unable to complete the reconstruction after the disgraceand then the death of her husband.The house has all the refinements of Renaissance architecture and epitomises the qualities of atraditional French château with its high roofs, tall watch-turrets, long rows of windows anddormer-windows and majestic Italian structure which gives the building a wonderfullysymmetrical facade. In the courtyard, there is a splendid grand staircase built by an unknownmaster architect. From the loggias which are underlined by rich decorative sculptures, there is awonderful view of the park. It was created at the Romantic period, when the new masters, the