Chateaux of Brittany

Château de Lanniron

Château de Lanniron belonged to the bishops of Quimper since the 12th century. In the 15th century, Lord Bertrand de Rosmadec erected a new manor which his successors used until the end of the 18th century either as a permanent residence or a summer residence. In the 17th century, Lord François de Coëtlogon extended the property. He will be remembered not only for his great deeds as a bishop but also for creating wonde ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Quimper, France

Château de la Motte-Glain

The Château de la Motte-Glain was built by Pierre de Rohan-Gié in 1495 on the site of an older fortress belonging to the lords of Rougé. Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII stayed there in 1497 and Charles IX and Catherine de" Medici in 1565. It was bought in 1635 by par Michel Le Loup, counsellor to the Parlement of Brittany. The castle was modified by Pierre de Rohan-Gié in the 17th century ...
Founded: 1495 | Location: La Chapelle-Glain, France

Château de l'Oiselinière

The Oiselinière estate was, before the French Revolution a 'Seigniory'. It is mentioned as early as 1335 in the charter 'Les Actes'. It spreads over the districts of Gorges and Clisson, and under the feudal system depended on the Seigneurs of Clisson and Pallet. For 643 years, this Seigniory only changed families four times: Maurice le Meigen was the owner, then in 1460 one of this descendants t ...
Founded: 1335 | Location: Gorges, France

Château de Caradeuc

The Chateau de Caradeuc was built in 1722 by Anne-Raoul Caradeuc de la Chalotais. It is most famous by its gardens, built in the 19th century on the woodland hills of Bécherel in the formal French style. Gardens were designed in 1898 by Edouard André. Decorated with many statues the gardens offer a spectacular panorama over the high valley of the Rance. They are open on weekends and bank holidays in May, June and Septem ...
Founded: 1722 | Location: Ille-et-Vilaine, France

Château de La Guyomarais

Château de La Guyomarais was built in the 16th century, but it the estate was owned by Guyomarais family already in the 15th century. Today castle is a private property.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Saint-Denoual, France

Château de Hac

Château de Hac is a large castle built in the first half of 15th century. It has a rectangular main building flanked of five turrets. The present castle has not been altered much. The Gothic furniture and interior date from the 15th and 16th centuries. At the beginning of 15th century, it was the residence of the constable Arthur de Richemont and was the prerogative of the families of Richemont, Hingant, Tournemine ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Le Quiou, France

Château de Lorge

Château de Lorge was built between 1721-1740 by Guy-Nicolas de Durfort, the Duke of Lorges. The castle consists of fine ensemble of 18th century main building and two annexes.
Founded: 1721-1740 | Location: L'Hermitage-Lorge, France

Château de Kergos

Château de Kergos has been owned by Kernafflen and Kergos families since 1684. It was built in the 16th century and several parts have survived without alterations. The park with a pond and arboretum was built in the 18th century.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Clohars-Fouesnant, France

Manoir de Mézarnou

The Manoir de Mézarnou is a fortified 16th century manor-house built on the site of an old medieval building, property in 1091, of Pierre André de Parcevaux, husband of Sybille de Trogoff. In 1145, Ollivier de Parcevaux donated to the abbey of Relecq. In 1250, Pierre de Parcevaux accompanied sire de Chateaubriand to the Holy Land with King Louis and the Duke of Brittany during the Seventh Crusade. In 1297, P ...
Founded: 1571-1591 | Location: Plounéventer, France

Château du Bois-Cornillé

Château du Bois-Cornillé dates originally from the 13th century, but the current castle was built by Pierre Landais in the late 15th century. It was completely renovated in the 18th century and only the medieval tower survived. The chapel dates from 1721. The park was designed by Eugene Denis Bühler and Édouard André in 1876.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Val-d´Izé, France

Château de Chassay

There was a Gallo-Roman villa on the site of Château de Chassay already in the 6th century AD. The castle is mentioned in the 1096 in a bishop letter. The current château was built in the 16th century. King Henry IV visited there in 1598. The castle was abandoned from the French Revolution until 1827, when it was acquired by Countess de Bondy. Today it is owned by the municipality.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Sainte-Luce-sur-Loire, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.