The castle of Azay-le-Rideau was built on an island in the Indre River under the patronage of King Francis the First. A subtle blend of French tradition and innovative Italian decor, it 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 castle came under State ownership.
While Chambord and Blois were royal residences, other architectural gems from the early 16th century were built for large financiers of the crown, such as Gilles Berthelot, the commissioner of the Château of Azay.
These financiers and advisers became rich during the reigns of Louis XII and Francis the First, and sought to establish their status by owning a castle and land. They wanted to show their success by the magnificence of their homes.
The “Centre des monuments nationaux” chose to restore the ground floor of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau to all the luxury and comfort of its previous owners, the Biencourt family, who, between 1791 and 1899, paid utmost attention to the furniture and furnishings of the château.
Restoration work has completed the reconstruction of the Château of Azay as it was in the 19th century when it was admired by travelers and, in particular, by Prosper Mérimée and Honoré de Balzac.
Known for the beauty of its natural setting and its rich historical heritage, the Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Châteaux of the Loire Valley, including that of Azay, constitute one of the treasures of the region. (http://www.azay-le-rideau.fr)