March 8—Châteaux de Chenonceau & Villandry

Today was different: rather than going to class, the french students came with us to the Chenonceau and Villandry castles. We left the school at around 8:15 AM, and arrived at Chenonceau at around 10 AM. Immediately, we were mesmerized by the fact that the castle was on water — a simple detail which made our experience even more special. Unlike the other castles we had visited, Chenonceau is often described as “the ladies’ chateau” or “Château des Dames” as throughout its history, it is they who have most influenced its design and its destiny.

We all thought it was funny and a bit ironic that we visited one of the few castles with such strong women presence on International Women’s Day. One room that captivated us was the room of lady Louise of Lorraine. Her room was black and sombre compared to the other ladies’ room. The reason is because her husband, Henry III, was assassinated and one of his dying wish was that she stay in the castle and pray for him. And so she did, and to honor him, she wore white and redesigned her room with symbol of death objects to illustrate her pain. After visiting the rooms of the castle, we were all super hungry so we all had lunch at the designated picnic area. After lunch, we got back on the bus, and headed to the castle of Villandry. This castle was also different because it felt much more recent than the other ones. It was enormous and the gardens had impeccable designs. Following that, some of us stopped by the store, where we purchased some souvenirs. Then, we headed to the bus once again, and left for the school. Once we arrived at the school, we separated, and we each went with our correspondents. We’re all super excited for the weekend, and a bit sad to leave on Monday.