Chateau d’Anet, and Diane de Poitiers !!

I go back in memory time to update this wonderful post about an unique castle, and a grand lady in the Eure et Loir dept 28 in Centre Val de Loire region , This is the Château d’Anet ,it was ordered built in 1543 by king Henri II for Diane de Poitiers. One of the gems on the history of France. I have another post more on the castle and this one more on Diane ; hope you enjoy it as I.

You can come by car from Paris leaving Porte Maillot and taking the A13 direction Rouen, go out at exit/sortie 12 towards Mantes Sud and follow the D928 all the way to Anet. By public transport is long but doable, get on Paris Montparnasse to Dreux train station,and there take the bus L05 direction of Coolen (La Chaussée-d’Ivry) , and descend at stop Boxhorn in Anêt,

The Château dAnet has lots of damage over the years and only exist today from the original a square in U or horseshoe in the left wing that was renovated in the 17C. After the French revolution, the new owner in 1804 had blown up the central body and the right wing of the castle; must have been a revolutionary… !

Many of the wonderful objects here were transferred to Fontainebleau and the fine arts museum of Chartres. The engraving by Rigaud showing 14 busts decorating the exterior walls facing the garden were sent to the Library of Chartres and the archeological society of the Eure et Loir etc. By 1723, the princess de Condé inherit Anet but 171 manuscripts were sold to the library many belonging to Diane de Poitiers preserved after her death. Many more hand changing afterward too long to mention. During WWI one of the owners since 1884 made it into an auxiliary hospital of the Red Cross; and the last owners Jean et Alexandra de Yturbe have it since 1998.


Now ,who was Diane de Poitiers? well she was born in 1499 in the castle of her grandfather Chateau de Saint Vallier that gave her the title of Countess of Valentinois and the shield of Poitiers. She was an able jockey and at an early age joined the court of Anne de Beaujeu and Louis XII. Maid of honor of the queen Anne and later of the future queen Claude (wife of François I) she assisted of his crowning in 1515. She married same year to Louis de Brézé, (40 yrs older) who was a grandson of King Charles VII of France. Louis de Brézé was Lord of Anet, Count of  Maulevrier, Seneschal of  Normandy and Master of the Hunt,  and she reach a nobility rank second only to a princess ,and choose to lived in Anet. Upon king François I death, the children are given for care to Diane in 1524.  Brief in 1531 her husband Louis de Blézé dies and she became known as the lady in black, wearing that color for a long period.

Called upon to the court again in 1533 to help Catherine de Medici into her new life in France and the French customs. She eventually becomes the lover of king Henri II by 1536-1537 thereabouts at the Château d’Ecouen, the favorite home of Anne de Montmorency. During their long relationship and ‘against-all-odds’ love, Henri and Diane created a love symbol that would be engraved all over Paris  even on Henri’s cannons. Their symbol contained two interwoven D’s with a line through the middle, forming an H. Even today, the symbol can be seen on the ceiling of the Louvre Museum, Fountainbleau, Chenonceaux, and the Paris Military Museum. Henry designed his own armor with the symbol  as a sign to France that his true love was not his wife, but Diane.

For her love and affection to the king and the help for Catherine de Medici to give him a child, she was given the Château de Chenonceau (see post) in the Loire valley.  differences began to appear between the mistress Diane and the queen Catherine of Henri II. Catherine did not invite Diane to Henri’s funeral, and she immediately banished her from Chenonceau. Diane moved to her castle in Anet, where she lived in comfortable obscurity for the rest of her life. 

Diane, took over the Château de Chaumont sur Loire (see post) after Catherine had decorated ugly and change everything inside and donates it to her daughter Françoise. Diane comes back again to Anet already at 64 yrs old and still looking good. Finally, two years later in 1566 she died at Anet. She gave away her fortunes to the daughters and the convents in the area, and upon her funeral the poor dressed in white and sang pray God for Diane de Poitiers. She is buried in the Chapel at Anet, during the French revolution the revolutionaries open her tomb and cut her hair to make hair strands in 1795 !


She had been kind to her husband to whom she had been faithful, kind to her daughters whom she had made rich. She had loved a King who had adored and respected her and made her happy. She was an example of great energy with a heritage of beauty exalted in France and became one of its glories.” and further Leonardo da Vinci wise formula may have been her guide: ‘That thou hast acquired in thy youth stays the damage of old age, and if thou dost understand that wisdom is the food of the eld so do that thine old age may not lack sustenance’.

Diane de Poitiers, moon mistress, was quite simply a woman for all time.  The sculpture once surmounted the monumental La Fontaine de Diane (The Fountain of Diana). It dates to the mid 16C, where it was originally placed in the courtyard of the Château d’Anet built by Philibert de L’Orme for Diane de Poitiers, Henry II’s mistress. In the 18C,  the fountain was moved to the nymphaeum before being confiscated during the French revolution when it was transferred to the Musée des Monuments Français in 1798. In 1799-1800, it was restored , and placed in the museum’s Elysée Garden. It was then claimed by the duchess of Orléans, owner of the Château of Anet at the time of the revolution and finally allocated to the Louvre at Paris by ministerial decree in 1819.  The sculpture depicts a semi-reclining Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, accompanied by her two dogs, Phrocyion and Cyrius, clearly depicted as a greyhound and a water spaniel. She has one arm around the neck of the majestic stag.

The official site for the castle of Anet

The city of Anet on the castle

A fascinating story and women, today she could be a role model but she was ahead of her time indeed. Hope you enjoy the story; The Château d’Anet and Diane de Poitiers are always intertwine in history ,the good one of France. Worth the detour me think,

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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