The Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau was built on an island in the Indre River during the reign of Francis I. It does represent a very subtle blend of French tradition and innovative Italian decor. This castle is an icon of the new art of building in the Loire Valley in the 16th century. Its successive owners have helped to make it the most architecturally harmonious treasure in the Loire Valley. In 1905, the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau came under State ownership.
A major restoration project was undertaken these last year and has fully restored the slate roofing and repair the remarkable early 16th century framework. Your ticket allows you direct entry to this wonderful Renaissance castle.
Make your own way to the Château d'Azay in the Loire Valley and use your pre-paid ticket to skip the line and enjoy priority access. Once inside, set out on a self-guided tour and spend as long as you like exploring the magnificent castle. The Château d'Azay is considered as one of the foremost examples of French Renaissance architecture. While both wings were built in the early years of the 16th century, the castle took on its final shape in the 19th century. In this respect, Azay-le-Rideau can be enjoyed as both a jewel of the Renaissance and as a representative example of the 19th century 's taste for Renaissance art.
In around 1510, Gilles Berthelot, adviser to King Louis XII and Treasurer of France, purchased the medieval fortress of Azay and the surrounding land. He distinguished himself in the service of the King of France by creating new taxes, which resulted in filling the coffers of the kingdom. Shortly after purchasing the land in Azay, Berthelot pulled down part of the old fortress to build a château in the style of the day. The work took a remarkably short amount of time: by 1522 the structure was completed. However, he had little time to enjoy his home. As with other financiers, his activities made him very rich, possibly at the expense of the crown. A general investigation ordered by Francis I revealed embezzlement. One of the financiers, Jacques de Beaune of Semblaçay, was executed. Gilles Berthelot, who feared the same fate, fled, abandoning his wife and his château. He died two years later in North of France.
Francis I seized the Château d'Azay and offered it to one of his loyal followers, Antoine Raffin, to the great displeasure of Philippe Lesbahy, the wife of Berthelot, who vainly tried to recover the property.
Firstly the property of the Raffin's, the château finished in the hands of the Gelais de Lansac family following successive marriages. On 27 June 1617, King Louis XIII stayed there. In 1651, the Marquis de Vasse received the château by marriage: he carried out some work to embellish the residence and built the portal. After his death in 1684, the domain fell into disrepair for lack of money.
Put on sale shortly before the Revolution, the Château was bought in 1791 by Charles de Biencourt, the Marquis of Biencourt. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Biencourt family undertook major restoration work, giving it its present form. They also transformed the park into a beautifully landscaped garden in the English style then in vogue.At the end of the century, the château passed into the hands of several owners before being purchased in 1905 by the State. The château was classified as a historical monument nine years later.