Honoré de Balzac once said of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau that it was “a facet cut diamond set in the Indre”, and for good reason! The stunning splendour of this residence never fails to astonish and its elegant shape and graceful Renaissance architecture are beautifully reflected in its water mirror. This gem of a château nestles in the romantic setting of a landscaped park, lulled by the tinkling water of the Indre and the gentle breeze blowing through the leaves of its large trees. Carefully renovated and looked after, the Château of Azay-le-Rideau proffers poetic moments you’ll never forget.
The château’s reflection in the water resembles an Épinal print. The residence owes its elegance to its Renaissance volutes and the good graces of the Biencourt family. After recent renovation work, the Château of Azay-le-Rideau has been restored to its former glory.

The Château of Azay-le-Rideau is a leading sightseeing venue, winning over those who come here with its sheer elegance and its water mirror. Although the site is today evocative of peace and tranquillity, it has seen acts of wickedness in the past, such as in Medieval times when King Charles VII burned the château and the entire village in revenge against the Bourguignons.

In the late 15th century, Martin Berthelot, an important figure among the Bourgeoisie, bought the seigneury of Azay before handing it over to his son, who started work on the current building. Busily occupied with his role as treasurer for the royal finances, Gilles Berthelot left the project in the hands of his wife, and it was under the guidance of Philippe Lesbahy that this masterpiece of the early French Renaissance was built. This new style combined the French architectural tradition of machicolation and turrets with Italian art influences, as illustrated in the sculpted decoration on the north facade. The angular staircase was the most innovative feature at this time, when spiral staircases were the most common design. Accused of embezzlement, the owner and his wife had to flee their new residence which was given by Francis I to Antoine Raffin, his Captain of the Guard. The château remained in this family until just before the French Revolution when, although in very poor condition, it was bought by Charles de Biencourt.

For more than a century, the Biencourt family undertook extensive work on the interior and exterior to restore Azay to its former glory, with the exception of the landscaped park, which illustrates the 19th-century fashion for English-style informal gardens. During this period, the château was resplendent with Renaissance beauty and its new-found stateliness, forming an overall sense of harmony that was often praised by poets. The last of the Marquis of Biencourt unfortunately fell into ruin and he sold the estate in the late 19th century. It was bought by the State in 1905 and is currently managed by the French Centre for National Monuments which, all too aware of the value of this exceptional piece of heritage, launched a restoration campaign in 2013 which will include the renovation of its park, sumptuous interior and facades. Wrapped in tuffeau stone and crowned with elegance, the Château of Azay-le-Rideau wins over hearts and pleases the eye.
Not to be missed

The Biencourt room

Azay-le-Rideau would have been forever lost if it had not been bought by a family of aesthetes. The Marquis of Biencourt not only renovated the Château but also embellished it throughout. Fully restored, the Biencourt room bears testimony to skills and knowledge in the 19th century.
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Hidden treasure

The restored park and water mirror

The Biencourt family preferred the untamed beauty of English-style parks to more structured garden design.
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Philippe Lesbahy’s room

Philippe Lesbahy, the wife of Gilles Berthelot, initiated the construction of the château.
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Practical information


Château of Azay-le-Rideau
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From € 11.5 /  person
"Accueil Vélo"Qualité TourismeLa Loire à VéloDémarche d'excellence grands sitesVignobles et Découvertes
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Things to see in the area
How to get there
Azay-le-Rideau is 25 km from the train stations in Tours and Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, which are both connected to Paris-Montparnasse train station by a train ride of approximately 1 hour. From Tours, the Tours-Chinon local train line stops at Azay train station, which is approximately 2 km from the château. The A10 and A85 motorways provide access to the château. It is around 2hr30mins by car from Paris. The airport in Tours provides connections to Portugal, Ireland, Great Britain and Morocco. 

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