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Christmas at the Château de Chenonceau: it’s beautiful and it’s good!

France inter, 10.12.2023

It is now a tradition: every year at the beginning of December the most famous castles of the Loire put on Christmas colors. Thus the Château de Chenonceau is transformed this year into a palace on the water where flowers and sweets mix.

If the image of this castle which seems to float above the waters of the Cher has gone around the world, few visitors know that in fact this building has a floral workshop and a team of florists who in the old farm prepare the bouquets which decorate the many rooms of this 16th century building throughout the year. Better yet, it is Jean François Boucher, best worker in France, who leads this small team which has been preparing the unmissable “Christmas at the Castle” event since the end of the summer.

The principle of this event is simple: 7 of the largest and most famous castles of the Loire must put on Christmas colors. Each castle has its own theme which it will present in its own way, allowing visitors to rediscover the place in another way.

In Chenonceau the idea this year was again to use flowers to create a Venetian palace on the water. Logical when we know that the castle has its own flower production and an “in-house” florist, Jean François Boucher Meilleur Ouvrier de France.

Each of the rooms has its own decoration, from the chapel with white fir trees and light pendants to the large gallery, passing through the bedroom of Catherine de Medici where an imposing fir tree has been placed.

But this year in Chenonceau, the decoration goes well beyond fir trees and flowers (7,000 stems per week) since Nicolas Viollet, creator of the confectionery conservatory, was asked to participate in the operation. For this, in his workshop in Amboise, he created xxl candies, calisson pyramids and balls of blown sugar with berlingot inlays. Great art!

For this confectioner at the head of the only museum in Europe dedicated to candy making, this is a great first and above all a real challenge.

Furthermore, for those who are wondering how Christmas was celebrated during the Renaissance, Amélie Lansiaux, tour guide, explains that the tradition at the time did not include exchanging gifts. On the other hand, the New Year’s Eve meal could take place in two stages: lean products, broths, fish before midnight mass then after the service, dishes sometimes consisting of game hunted in the 140 hectares of the estate.

Finally, you should know that during the “Christmas at the castles” operation we offer in Chenonceau: night visits, or thematic visits around the French art of living or around floral art with nothing less than the advice of Jean Francois Boucher.

Philippe Lefebvre