Construction of the Château de Guermantes was undertaken by Claude Viole (died 1638), whose family had possessed the fief of 'Le Chemin' since the mid-16th century. Paulin Pondre (1650-1723) purchased the property in 1698. He engaged Jules Hardouin-Mansart for renovations to the building, completed in 1710, and André Le Nôtre to lay out the garden. Pondre had become one of the most powerful financiers of the reign of Louis XIV; he was appointed President of the Cour des Comptes in 1713.
Guermantes is built of brick with stone facings and quoins, in an H-plan, with projecting pavilions flanking the corps de logis, under tall sloping slate roofs and tall chimney stacks. The house stands in a large park. The front is now approached in the English manner, with a drive sweeping to the side and an unbroken expanse of lawn. On the garden front, the house stands on a terrace with steps leading down to the former parterre, which is now lawn, and the expanse of water in the formally shaped pièce d'eau, from the far end of which the château is reflected in its entirety.
The original furnishings of Guermantes have been scattered, but rooms retain their 17th- and 18th-century boiseries. The family Pondre maintained the property until 1929.
In 1719 the Scottish economist and financier John Law purchased Guermantes for 800,000 livres. He only enjoyed possession for a matter of months. When the economic bubble created by his Mississippi Scheme burst, his life came under threat and he begged Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, the Regent, for permission to leave Paris. The Regent initially only granted Law permission to retire to the Château de Guermantes, and it was there that he spent his final days in France. On the evening of 17 December 1720, Law set off from the Château de Guermantes and fled France never to return. Paulin Pondre was able to take possession once more; his family were dispossessed at the Revolution.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.