Château de Chamarande

Chamarande, France

A fortified château in Chamarande was built in the 16th century, probably for François Hurault, who in 1563 acquired the two seigneuries which make up the present estate and took up residence here. This castle corresponds to the present buildings of the commanderie. After the death of François Hurault in 1613, the château passed to his son Jean, who expanded the estate.

However, the château suffered in the Fronde and was in a poor state by the time it was sold in 1654 to Pierre Mérault. He built the present castle. Its design was formerly attributed to François Mansart without corroborating documentary evidence, but is now attributed to Nicolas de l'Espine. A rectangular building surrounded by a moat forms the living quarters, flanked on either side by the service wings The entrance to the main courtyard is flanked by two pavilions, with the left one containing the chapel.

In debt, Pierre Mérault sold the estate in 1684 to Clair Gilbert d'Ornaison known as Chamarande. The year after the sale, Louis promoted Bonnes into the 'county of Charamande' by letters patent. At d'Ornaison's death in 1737, the château passed to his first cousin and heir, Louis de Talaru, marquis de Chalmazel. The architect Pierre Contant d'Ivry worked on the château for de Talaru, building new service quarters beyond the secondary route near the village, and to the estate added an orangery, a belvédère, an oval bosquet and a cascatelle. He demolished the wall of the courtyard along the moat and put an ironwork gate with two lampholders in front of the bridge. He also modernised the interior decor.

In the 1780s, a water feature was added, with an island bordered by bald cypresses from Louisiana at its centre - it is traditionally attributed to the painter and garden designer Hubert Robert. After the French Revolution, Louis-Justin, marquis de Talaru, bought the estate under the Consulate and carried out repairs, redesigning the park in English style. Mayor of Chamarande, he lived at the Château until his death in 1850.

In 1852, the estate was sold to Pierre and René Robineau, and in 1857 it became the property of Victor Fialin, interior minister to Napoléon III and French ambassador to the United Kingdom. He created a luxuriously-furnished gallery on the château's ground floor, built a fortified wall round the estate, completed the transformation of the park and planted exotic trees. New service buildings were added: a farm, stables, a bergerie, a birdhouse, a kennel, a new icehouse and a winter garden. Near the new gate was placed an obelisk inspired by the Songe de Poliphile, which probably referred to the love-affairs of Henry II with Diane de Poitiers.

In 1876, the château was acquired by Aristide Boucicaut, founder of Bon Marché, who added a Renaissance-style dining room but died only a year after purchasing the château. From 1923 to 1951, the château was central to the creation of Scouting in France. In 1957, the last private owner was Auguste Mione, before the estate was bought in 1978, by the General Council of the Essonne.

In 2001, a contemporary art centre was set up at Chamarande at the instigation of Dominique Marchès. In season, from May to October, the centre hosts story-telling, music, dance and film festivals as well as gardening and heritage events in the park.

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Founded: 17th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ismael Gómez (3 years ago)
A beautiful place. Very inspiring
Rosalie Hunnicutt (3 years ago)
Big spacious park
Noel Kelly (3 years ago)
Beautiful place for a day out.
Zuzanna Kosowska-Stamirowska (3 years ago)
Beautiful parc, perfect for long walks with a stroller
Margarita Vides Irving (3 years ago)
An incredible experience to see a little castle in an almost rural environment, yet so close to the city.
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