In a region known for its stunning chateaus, Chenonceau Castle stands alone. A masterpiece of Renaissance construction, dating back to the 16th century, the castle was built on the site of an ancient mill on the River Cher. As the rural residence of the spirited Italian-born French queen Catherine de Medici, the mansion hosted extravagant parties, had extensive gardens and even orchestrated the first fireworks display ever seen in France. Today visitors can tour the castle, eat in its varied restaurants or walk its maze. Summertime visits by night are popular when gardens are illuminated and the music of Baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli fills the air.