It’s best to go here by train from Tours. Get your tickets at the Tours train station. We paid 10.60€ each for a round trip, and you had better purchase the round trip in Tours, because the whistle stop station in Chenonceau does not have a ticket office, nor any office of any kind.
Once you get off the train you’re home free. Walk across the track at the grade crossing, and you are at the château parking lot. From there it’s a short walk to the ticket office and a stroll down a tree-lined entry to the site.
Yes, the place is impressive.
There’s more inside.
There are two ticket prices. The ticket with audio guide is a few euros more. Both plans include a brochure. The cheap ticket costs about as much as your round trip train ride.
For that you get to stroll the magnificent grounds and peek into the private lives of the Catherine de Medici and the French kings who lived here.
Yeah, when the haughty C. de Medici was lounging here I bet it never entered her mind what one day I would come along and shoot up the place with my Canon SLR.
I am sure the entire facility is not covered in the tour, but what you do get to see gives you to wonder what it must have been like to live here hundreds of years ago.
Get real, people. 21st century commoners have an easier life than those people had. Picture this as your kitchen, and you will not envy the person who fixed dinner here.
The place has an interesting modern history. It was turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers in the First World War, and it was bombed by the Germans in June 1940, during the time the Germans were conquering France. Americans bombed it again, the day after the D-Day landings, hitting the chapel and (I suppose) blowing out the stained glass windows.
Early in the occupation, the Chenonceau Château straddled the demarcation between occupied France and Vichy France, the dividing line here being the Cher River. This hall spanned the boundary and was a conduit for French fleeing occupied France.
Outside, strolling the richly manicured grounds is worth the trip.
Be prepared to be impressed.
We took a break after touring the interior. There is a nice restaurant just outside, where Barbara Jean had some kind of chicken with vegetable medley and potatoes au gratin. I had the fish and chips.
When you head back to Tours, remember the return train platform is on the other side of the tracks from where you came in, and it’s past the street at the grade crossing. There’s a machine at the return platform where you can cancel your ticket before getting on the train. It’s a slow ride, with six stops in about 25 minutes. Way comfortable.