Château de Balleroy

Balleroy, France

Built in 1631 by the celebrated architect François Mansart (1598-1666) at the request of Jean de Choisy, the Château de Balleroy and its surrounding buildings are one of the first urban plans that inspired other chateaux, including Versailles. All the buildings were built from scratch. The chateau itself has retained almost all of its original features and it is because of this that it witnessed the major innovations of the 17th Century.

In 1970, Malcolm S. Forbes, owner of a major U.S. newspaper group acquired the chateau which was then fully restored and refurbished. Today, his four sons and his daughter continue his work.



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Founded: 1631
Category: Castles and fortifications in France


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michał Czaplicki (2 years ago)
A magnificent hidden gem. Very few tourists, great architecture, splendid views. One of the few chateaux that survived both the French Revolution and the second world war pretty intact. It's contemporary history is also very unique.
John Heath (3 years ago)
As we were driving around the country side of France we came across this lovely village. The name of the village was Balleroy which is a beautiful village with this beautiful castle. It's an amazing castle and well worth visiting. This place was built in the 17th century and was owned by the Balleroy family. It was purchased by the Forbes family in 1970 and is still owned by them today. You can visit most of the rooms on the first floor but just a few on the second floor as the Forbes family when visiting France still use some parts of this castle. The parking is free and I think it was 9 euros per adult. There is a lovely little cafe where you can get a drink and a cake. You are shown round the castle itself by a guide, but you are allowed to wander round the gardens and grounds by yourself. There is a dry moat which gives the illusion of a castle with a moat. There is a massive dove coat which you can wander in which you will find fascinating. Do go if you are wandering around the French countryside just like we did.
Francois Le Barbenchon (3 years ago)
Great place to visit to see how people lived throughout the ages. A reception room untouched for 400 years, still lived in today
Christine Hoffstaetter (3 years ago)
Some gateau at the chateau ... beautiful place owned by Forbes family and luckily they keep it open for wonderful tours... a definite must see. Informative guides who are kind and friendly and have the option to do in English. The cafe and grounds are a must to explore. You are not allowed to take pics inside because they want to keep it private, which is understandable.
David Oldham (3 years ago)
Wonderful. The French residence of Malcolm Forbes. Amazing house excellent guides. The gardens aren't bad either. Great history. The balloon museum is great too.
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The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.