Château de Courances

Courances, France

The Château de Courances was built around 1630. In 1552, Côme Clausse, a notary and royal secretary to the King, acquired the former seigneurial dwelling at Courances, at the western edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau. His heir conveyed it in 1622 to Claude Gallard, another royal secretary, who is doubtless the builder of the present château, of an H-plan laid out on a rectangular platform that is surrounded by moat. The original château is known from the engravings of Israël Henriet and Israël Silvestre, about 1650.

In the 18th century the house was modernized by Anne-Catherine Gallard, widow of Nicolas Potier de Novion, who demolished the wall and entryway that had enclosed the courtyard. Later her granddaughter Léontine-Philippine de Novion and her husband Aymar de Nicolay further modernized the château (1775–1777) by opening new bays and applying a large pedimented center to each façade.

In 1830, the Nicolay heirs conveyed away the château, which was bought in 1872 by baron Samuel de Haber. Architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur restored the château in a Louis XIII style between 1873 to 1884. Destailleur retrieved the brickwork from beneath a layer of stucco, raised the rooflines of the pavilions and supplied zinc ornaments for the roofs. The grand internal staircase was demolished and monumental ramps of Fontainebleau inspiration were applied to the façades. A new wing with broken roofline was erected over the former kitchens to shelter the master suites, and was linked to the old wing by a gallery.

New outbuildings constructed at the same time were destroyed by fire in 1976. In the First World War, Courrances served as a hospital. In the Second World War, it was first occupied by the Germans, then by Field Marshal Montgomery, from 1947 to 1954.

Château de Courances has also an exceptional park, acclaimed as 'the epitome of the French formal garden style in which château and environment form a whole'.



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Founded: 1630
Category: Castles and fortifications in France


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gordon Mussett (3 years ago)
Best chateau and Gardens in the area
Jordan Mitsoullis (3 years ago)
Love this place - absolutely beautiful gardens and stunning chateau.
René Ghosh (3 years ago)
This is not a review of the actual Château de Courances’ toilets (I didn’t go into the castle) but those of the Foulerie, which is a tea room just behind the Japanese gardens. In renaissance thinking, the divine dominates nature. Nature is designed. Though humanity has, since the renaissance, sort of admitted that considering itself disjoint from nature wasn’t great, obviously we miss the gardens. Also, you kind of have to espouse the whole domination-of-nature paradigm if you hope to charge 7 euros a visit. There's one aspect of nature no one can hope to dominate: the call of nature. You admit you’re not ‘above’ nature when you have to go number one (or number two). So at the Foulerie, you reach the toilets by first descending down a flight of black iron stairs, and then through a heavy iron portal pierced in a grid structure. This physical metaphor serves to contain the cell of indomitable nature but simultaneously view the relieving of oneself as an ideological parenthesis: a pee break. Within the enclave, the park’s plunge into history is suspended. The walls are covered with very modern renovation painted fiberglass wallpaper, the floors are made of very regular, machine-honed stone. The only concession to all the Renaissance going on upstairs is the elegantly vaulted stone ceiling, arching aristocratically over the toilet-goer like a Renaissance wormhole. The toilets are clean, spacious, well-lit, and sparsely furnished. It’s a good moment to take a timeout from the park’s visual complexity. It has a refreshing généricité to it that you could feel as though you were anywhere else in France. Pee break over, you head back up into the gardens to witness order, tamed, green beauty, the geometrical bodies of water fed from pristine sources, and other stuff.
Aymee Turner (3 years ago)
Beautiful Chateau and the grounds are simple but great.
William Birnie Renovations (3 years ago)
A great destination for getting away for the day. The cafe in front of the Japanese garden is lovely. The garden itself... Breathtaking!
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