Located in Indre-et-Loire district is the château of Azay-le-Rideau, a castle built between 1518 and 1527, to protect the town of Chinon and surrounding area.
In 1791 the ruins of the castle were purchased by Marquis Charles de Biencourt in the hope that he would restore the castle to its former glory. The family worked hard and added an English inspired garden to the grounds. Azay castle was finally restored and descendants of the Biencourt opened it to the public in 1850.
In 1905 after having several owners, Azay-le-Rideau castle was purchased by the state and given protective and preservation status.
The park was closed to the public in 2014 for 34 months for renovation and restoration. The park, garden and château of Azay-le-Rideau have been completely restored and refurnished.
The ground floor was entirely refurnished and restored to the Biencourt period (1791-1899). It now showcases and resembles the daily life of the Biencourt family who paid intricate detail to their choices of furniture and furnishings, when they lived in the château of Azay-le-Rideau.
The château of Azay-le-Rideau has been set free from the scaffolding, which has surrounded the building continuously since 2015. During the restoration project over 30 companies, many of which were art restorers, specialized ‘art workers’ and highly qualified heritage workers. These companies and individuals worked around the clock on restoration, scenography and refurnishing to get the castle reopened for the end of the season.
Azay le Rideau castle during the renovation
As well as a dramatic transformation to the building's interior, the exterior of the building has been restored to its former glory: there is bright white tuffeau, which highlights the castles rendering, and the south facade provides a mirror type reflection of the Indre.
The castle’s gardens underwent major restoration work, which included renewing the tree areas, providing soil regeneration, an upgrade of electrical equipment such as lighting, restoration of the bridges and alley ways, along with restoring the stone work and heritage pieces.
New Management Strategy
Along with the restoration and refurnishing, the rebrand has created a whole new commercial strategy, both short and long term, in the hope of reaching the objective of 400,000 visitors a year.
Competition between castles of the Loire Valley is tough : the château de Chambord received over 730,000 visitors in 2016 and the château de Chenonceau which receives about 850,000 every year.
The "new face" of Azay le Rideau
The château of Azay-le-Rideau is offering visitors the chance to explore and learn about the restoration process through discovering the different techniques, carpenters, and historical restoration that went into the project (all shown through the unique exhibition within the castle).
At the castle visitors can take a guided or self guided tour (audio or booklet) of the castle and its ground which are both available in English. The guide booklet is available in English as is the audio guide tour, but the guided tour is only available in French and is required to be booked in advance.
Every night in from the 1st July 2018 to 27th August 2018 the castle holds a night-show called ‘The Magic Mirror’. From 9pm to midnight the castle is lit up with a light and sound show which involves performers, animals and special lighting effects. It’s a very pleasant experience on a warm summer night.
Night Light show at Azay le Rideau castle
You can discover and be mesmerized by the Azay-le-Rideau along with other magical places in the Loire Valley, both famous and hidden (depending on your dreams and desires) with our Loire Valley self-drive tours.