The Château de Goulaine has been home to the family of the marquis de Goulaine for over a thousand years. Château de Goulaine is also the estate-bottled wine produced at the château. In the 12th century, when the Duchy of Brittany was independent, the first Goulaine, Jean de Goulaine, then captain of the city of Nantes, fortified the estate, which is still surrounded by marshes, to defend against attacks from Normans. The Goulaine were of the old nobility, recorded in the Seventh Crusade (1248). During the Wars of Religion, the Goulaine fought for the Catholic League: Gabriel, sieur de Goulaine, at the head of fifty lancers, and his brother Jean, baron du Faouët, took the châteaux of Trogoff (Plouescat) and of Kérouzéré (Sibiril) in 1590. Gabriel was attached to the Bourbon cause in being made a marquis by Henry IV of France. The Goulaine family ownership of the estate continued uninterrupted until 1788 when it was sold to a Dutch banker. This circumstance helped save the château from destruction during the French Revolution. In 1858, a member of the Goulaine family reacquired the estate and maintains it today.
While it is not clear exactly when the estate vineyard started producing wine for commercial use, rather than just family consumption, the millennium during which the estate of Château de Goulaine has been producing wine makes it the oldest known wine business still in existence; It is believed to be the third oldest commercial enterprise in the world. It is considered the oldest European family owned business. The castle estate is one of the last Châteaux de la Loire to still be producing wine.
Today the style of the château, under its high pitched slate roofs bears some comparison to the central Loire estates of Château de Blois and Château de Chambord, though Château de Goulaine was built much earlier and in a more conservative style.
Since 1984, hundreds of tropical butterflies are showcased in an aviary, flying freely among tropical plants. This project was initiated by Marquis Robert de Goulaine (1933-2010) himself.
In the older stables, you can visit the LU Museum. You can see the art and advertising collection of the brand of biscuits. There are 500 works of art (paintings, sculptures). The brand is very important in Nantes because the production of 'le Petit Beurre' biscuits was in the 'quai Baco' in the factories of the family. Today, the brand history is told with their works of art.References:
The Château de Fougères is an impressive castle with curtain wall and 13 towers. It had three different enclosures, first for defensive purposes, second for day to day usages in peacetime and for safety of the surrounding populations in times of siege, the last enclosure was where the keep was situated.
The first wooden fort was built by the House of Amboise in the 11th century. It was destroyed in 1166 after it was besieged and taken by King Henry II of England. It was immediately rebuilt by Raoul II Baron de Fougères. Fougères was not involved in the Hundred Years' War until 1449 when the castle was taken by surprise by an English mercenary. In 1488 the French troops won the castle back after a siege and the castle lost its military role.
In the late 18th century the castle was turned into a prison. The owner in this period was the Baron Pommereul. In the 19th century the outer ward became an immense landscaped garden. A museum was established in the Mélusine Tower. During the Industrial Revolution, a shoe factory set up shop in the castle grounds.
The City of Fougères took ownership of the Château in 1892. It had been a listed Historical Monument since 1862. A major campaign was launched to clean up the castle walls. While the castle had retained many of its original features, some of the curtain walls needed to be cleared and certain sections required major repairs. The changes made in the 18th century were "reversed," and the castle was finally open to visitors. The first campaign of archaeological excavations, conducted in 1925, unearthed the ruins of the manor house.
Since then, the Château de Fougères has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors every year. The castle's excellent state of conservation, and the historical interest of its architecture, make Fougères an invaluable window onto the Middle Ages. From great lords to simple builders, generations of inhabitants have left their mark on these walls.