Château du Rivau

Lémeré, France

The Château du Rivau is a castle-palace in Lémeré. It is intimately linked to the illustrious Beauvau family, related to the Counts of Anjou. During the 13th century, the Beauvau family served the Kings of France and were allied to the royal family through the marriage of Isabeau de Beauvau to Jean II de Bourbon in 1454. During the 17th century, Le Rivau was protected by Richelieu as his sister Françoise was married to Jean de Beauvau, lord of Rivau. Once they became princes of Lorraine, the Beauvau family left the Touraine region. Le Rivau remained in the family's possession for 247 years.

In 1768, the marquis Michel-Ange de Castellane, the lord of Villandry, acquired Le Rivau. He stayed there with his family until 1796. At the turn of the 20th century, the sculptor Alphonse de Moncel de Perrin, who worked on the ornamentation of the Petit-Palais in Paris, managed to have Le Rivau listed among the Historical Monuments in 1918.The painter Pierre-Laurent Brenot lived at Le Rivau from 1960 to 1992. At the end of the 20th century, Le Rivau as though touched by a magic wand, found once again its original splendour after a 18-years restoration campaign.

With its majestic keep and its protective drawbridge, the Château du Rivau seems to come straight out of a fairy tale. Its shape is reminiscent of 13th century fortified castles as suggest the square layout one can still discern. The square shaped keep was the heart of the castle’s fortification. Yet the Rivau was one of the first ornamental castles to be built: its cheminees, wide windows and frescos endow it with a harmonious style. In the dining hall a biblical episode of the Feast of Belshazzar was depicted over the fire mantelpiece by a Flemish master of the 16th century.

The 12 gardens of Rivau are designated a Jardin Remarquable (by a French organisation that recognises remarkable gardens). They are inspired by fairy tales and legends and take the visitors on a beautiful and fantastical journey. The Rivau fairytale gardens are also a treat for rose lovers and gardeners, as they display a collection of more than 300 roses from famous rose breeders such as André Eve or David Austin.

Joan of Arc came to Le Rivau to fetch horses in 1429. At that time, war horses were already bred at le Rivau, where the current commons stand. In 1510 François de Beauvau, the King’s chief squire, decided to build stables (most certainly in wood) where they had existed at the time of the Hundred-Years War. He died during the battle of Romagne, to the side of Bayard in 1524. His heir, Gabriel de Beauvau daringly undertook the erection of original stables, whose plans were directly inspired from the Italian architectures, knights had discovered while fighting for the King. Until then the Rivau’s stables were only meant to be functional and had no ornaments whatsoever. One of le Rivau’s main idiosyncrasies comes from the fact that for the first time in the history of equestrian architecture, stables were designed by an architect who developed a pioneer style.

Le Rivau is also famous for the contemporary sculptures that are displayed around the gardens, with pieces by artists such as Fabien Verschaere, Cat Loray, Jerôme Basserode, Frans Krajcberg and Philippe Ramette.

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Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Christine Mamuad (7 months ago)
What a disaster. Picture this: you're on your honeymoon, where your wonderful, patient spouse indulges your crazy desire to stay in a castle. You save money and book an expensive suite at Château du Rivau for three nights because it's a lifelong dream, once in a lifetime. You arrive late in the evening, drop off luggage in your amazing-looking room, and have dinner in the beautiful garden at the castle. After a satisfying meal, you return to the comfort of your suite, only to discover the room is not something out of a fairytale fantasy... it's a bloody nightmare. Picture this: a graveyard of dead flies surrounds you. Countless bodies of dead flies absolutely litter your entire suite. Dead flies adorn the floors, gathering in higher densities near the windows, their bodies sprinkled on the floor all around the bed. Intrepid individuals have crawled into nooks and crannies to die, including a handful under your pillows. It is far too late. You are locked in. There is no staff at night. You are exhausted and want to scream and run away, but you don't want to ruin the trip. Your amazing, infinitely patient spouse sweeps away the bodies of insects off the bed, including a live spider, and even checks under the sheets for strays. None there, mercifully. You try to sleep but can't, because there is a single, surviving fly buzzing up in the ceiling, trying desperately to escape. Go ahead and spend hours pondering that fly's pitiful, doomed existence, seeing its fate in its expired brethren scattered all over the floor. Go ahead and try not to think of crushing their bodies underfoot as you must inevitably get up and walk around the room in the long-awaited morning. Go ahead and pray that this last fly--let's call it Gerard, shall we?--will not choose to lay itself to rest somewhere over your head and fall lifelessly on to your face. Go ahead and spend six sleepless hours repressing your own despair, and perhaps use the (long, oh my god far too long) time awake to compose a wretched review such as this one. This was our reality: I had dragged my poor spouse into an insect horror show on our honeymoon. When morning arrived, I discovered the body of Gerard on the vanity upstairs; it hadn't been there the night before so I assume it was Gerard. We headed to the front desk downstairs--by the way, there are no elevators, so tough luck if you have lots of heavy luggage or are disabled. The receptionist, Mateo, was professional and understanding, but also new--no idea how this happened and escaped housekeeping's notice. He apologized and promised they would clean everything and change the sheets, so perhaps there was a chance to salvage this? We left for the day, hoping we'd get the experience we were here for. To their credit, I believe housekeeping did clean and change the sheets, but when my wonderful, infinitely patient spouse went up to our room to check after we got back that afternoon, the situation had only gotten worse. The insect graveyard was out of control. And instead of just Gerard on a death spiral, there were many more flies, Gerard II to XVI, buzzing around, awaiting the reaper. We could not stay another night. Mateo was skeptical of my spouse's assessment that the room was worse than before because he had helped to clean it himself. It wasn't until he went upstairs to help us with our luggage that the direness of the situation dawned on him. The look of utter shock on his face, along with the litany of apologies that followed, said it all. The one star from this review is reserved for Mateo. Now picture this: pay a "discounted" 300 euros for the privilege of not sleeping, and psychologically torturing yourself, in a dead bug-infested room in a castle for one night. I wanted so badly to leave it all behind that I didn't fight that room charge, but I wish I had, because they should have refunded us for the misery. Luckily, you don't have to picture any of this, because actual pictures are attached. Those black spots are not flower petals; the one by the toothbrush is Gerard. RIP.
Pete Jackman (9 months ago)
Beautiful building and gardens impregnated with magical and fantasy oddity, which left us wondering what we'd just witnessed and what chemicals the creators were on... also the lack of welcome we felt on asking for audio tour that was cancelled as there was a coach tour booked and they were prioritised to use it, also when we just wanted to buy a coffee but having to book a table for 15 minutes time in the sit down restaurant. We went elsewhere, ie left the chateau. To top it off, the place was not that busy...
Lindsey Reece-Smith (9 months ago)
We went to this Chateau with family, including an assortment of young grandchildren. The gardens were lovely, I especially appreciated the music around some areas which was very relaxing. We sat on picnic benches to eat our lunch in the shade and all worked well. Careful of the hammocks as one child fell out! 5 rooms in the castle. One is a shrine yo Joan of Arc and the others have art, not quite to our taste, but all in all a good day out
Richard Fysh (9 months ago)
Very disappointing! The Chateau claims to have wheelchair accessible gardens but in fact the poor surface of the carpark, the path to the gate and the medieval cobbles inside the courtyard are really not negotiable comfortably in a wheelchair. Nor are they negotiable safely by anyone using walking sticks. There is a short stretch of smooth path round one side of the courtyard but nothing that makes the gardens truiy accessible. If you know them both I compare Rivau (wrong) to the Abbey L'Epau (right).
Krista MacKinlay (9 months ago)
A quirky, artsy, fun. A must see for everyone. Dogs on leash in garden are allowed. Food on site. Great gift store. Woods and gardens are enjoyable to visit.
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