The Château d'Anet is a château built by Philibert de l'Orme from 1547 to 1552 for Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II of France. It was a gift from the king and was built on the former château at the center of the domains of Diane's deceased husband, Louis de Brézé, seigneur d'Anet, Marshal of Normandy and Master of the Hunt.
The château is especially noted for its exterior, notably the statues of Diane de Poitiers as Diana, goddess of the hunt, by Jean Goujon and the relief by Benvenuto Cellini over the portal. Anet was the site of one of the first Italianate parterre gardens centered on the building's facade in France; the garden-designer in charge was Jacques Mollet, who trained his son at Anet, Claude Mollet, destined to become royal gardener to three French kings.
The château was built partly upon the foundations and cellar vaults of a feudal castle that had been dismantled by Charles V and was subsequently rebuilt as a Late Gothic manor of brick and stone.
The château was not pillaged during the French Revolution, but Diane de Poitiers' remains were removed to a pauper's ditch in the parish cemetery and the rich contents of the château, which were the property of King Louis XVI's cousin, Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, duc de Penthièvre, were sold at auction as biens nationals. A large part of the château was subsequently demolished, but only after Alexandre Lenoir was able to salvage some architectural elements for his Musée des monuments français ( presently situated in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris). The elements were reinstalled at Anet after World War II.
The restoration of the château itself, in pitiable condition, was due to comte Adolphe de Caraman, who purchased it in 1840 and undertook a colossal program of restoration. In 1851, the minister of the interior granted Anet the status of a monument historique. Under financial duress, Caraman sold the château in 1860 to Ferdinand Moreau, who continued the restoration, purchasing furnishings and works of art that were thought to be originally from the château. The set of tapestry hangings woven for the château, in Paris, to cartoons by Jean Cousin, forming a History of Diana in compliment to Diane de Poitiers, is now widely scattered; it set a precedent for suites of Diana-themed tapestries that remained popular into the 18th century.
The free-standing chapel of Anet, built in 1549-1552, is designed on a centralized Greek cross floor plan under a diagonally-coffered dome. Its facade has a porch of widely-spaced paired Ionic columns between towers crowned by pyramidal spires.In 1581, Henri III and his mother Catherine de' Medici came to the chapel to attend the baptism of the infant son of Charles, duc d'Aumale. There is also the mortuary chapel, built according to Diane de Poitiers' last wishes to contain her tomb, commissioned from Claude de Foucques by Diane's daughter, the Duchesse d'Aumale.
The property belonged to many of Louis XIV's descendants: Louise-Françoise de Bourbon died here in 1743, she was a daughter of the famous illegitimate son of Louis XIV the Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, duc du Maine. His sons the prince des Dombes and comte d'Eu lived here when away from Versailles. It was later owned by the fabulously wealthy duc de Penthièvre, first cousin of the prince and the comte. The castle was used as a filming location in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball and 1976 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).