Château de Maintenon

Maintenon, France

The Château de Maintenon is best known as being the private residence of the second spouse of Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon. The construction of the castle began in the 12th and ended roughly in the 18th century. In the early 16th century it was purchased by Louis XII's treasurer Jean Cottereau, who transformed the castle into a country house. In the 17th century it was rebuilt for Madame de Maintenon, who purchased the estate in 1675.

The château's main features are the keep, constructed in the 13th century, and the principal corps de logis, flanked by two round towers. The east and west wings frame a cour d'honneur, beyond which is the moat filled by the waters of the Eure, and, beyond, the parterre and park. The picturesque massing of the varied towers and roofs pleased François-René de Chateaubriand who found its special character was like that of an abbey or an old town, "with its spires and steeples, grouped at hap-hazard".

At the far end of the gardens is the aqueduct known as the canal de Louis XIV, ordered by Louis XIV. Its colossal scale impressed Chateaubriand, who said that it was "a work worthy of the Caesars". It was constructed by the Marquis de Vauban between 1685 and 1690 in order to transport water from the Eure River to the gardens and fountains at the Château de Versailles. In the 18th century there was an orangerie constructed as well as stables.

The interior has been restored and furniture and decoration can be seen in several salons, a library and a billiard room. There is also a portrait gallery showing painting of the House of Noailles, who inherited the property at the death of Madame de Maintenon in 1718.

The main garden was designed by the famous André Le Nôtre who also worked at Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Marly. The parterre has two interlacing "L"'s, in honour of Louis XIV. Two allées, given modern names in honour of Le Nôtre and Racine, border the Eure river.

At the far end, cutting through the gardens, is the aqueduct built from 1685 to supply the fountains of the park of the Palace of Versailles. The project meant that water was diverted from the Eure river some 80 km away. The arches of the structure reach a height of 60 feet. Vauban was in charge of the works.

The aqueduct had to have 47 arcades to the first row, 195 arcades to the second and 390 to the third one. The wars of Louis XIV prevented the work's completion.

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Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Janet Calverley (5 months ago)
The gardens are magnificent however the layout of the house does not have a particularly good layout. It's full of interesting pieces however it would be useful if it was laid out as functioning rooms to give an idea of layout when it was lived in.
carol huang (5 months ago)
Abbey like castle , French garden and the aqueduct finished in 1685 make it an exceptional interesting spot to visit!
Steve Wells (7 months ago)
Absolutely a must visit. Stunning gardens and chateau, make sure you take the time to really enjoy it.
Sergane Sariani (8 months ago)
A fascinating peek at the intimate life of some of France's most famous people. Along with an architectural treat and exquisite french garden. You can also do a short walk to see the aqueducts up close.
Marc Aurèle (10 months ago)
A classic chateau to visit 1:30 hours from Paris, full of history. Interesting gardens. An ideal visit for a lazy afternoon in this quiet little town. Not that many international tourists either. Plenty of restaurants all around.
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