Another of the charming châteaux of the Loire Valley is Azay-le-Rideau. Novelist Honoré de Balzac described it as “un diamant taillé à facettes, serti par l’Indre” (uhn dee-ah-mahn tieay ah fahset, sertea par lindruh), which means “a many-faceted diamond, set in the Indre.” It looks like it is floating in water, but it’s actually built on a small island in the middle of the Indre River. The château was commissioned by 16th century financier Gilles Berthelot. Before the château was finished, however, a Lehman Brothers-type scandal rocked his world and the disgraced Berthelot fled the country. François I confiscated the château and gave it to a friend but the house seemed to have picked up a curse. It bounced from owner to owner until the government bought it for a pittance in 1905. A diamond at yard-sale prices. I wish I could have snapped it up.
Loire Valley (Eyewitness Travel Guide)