One of the few French listed chateaux, typical of the Restoration period,
in 11 ha of parklands on the edge of the Poitevin marshes
Niort, DEUX-SEVRES poitou-charentes 79000 FR

Location

With the chateau’s parklands begins the southern section of the Poitevin marshes and a delightful landscape. A little river feeds a large, decorative “canal” in line with the estate. The site has Natura 2000 classification. The nearby hamlet comprises but a few houses. Local shops are 2 km away, the nearest regional train station is 8 km away. La-Rochelle and Niort TGV train stations are respectively 35 and 25 minutes away by car. With interesting heritage, cultural centres, hospitals and shops, both these towns offer a wide range of facilities. La-Rochelle-Ile-de-Ré airport has flights to several European destinations. A dip in the Atlantic Ocean is but an afternoon’s outing.

Description

This chateau was constructed in the first quarter of the 19th century on the site of a stronghold that its owner had just had razed, leaving a tower, now a dovecote. It has been classified in its entirety on the French Supplementary Historic Monument List since 1992. Its U-shape is laid out around a main courtyard, closed on the fourth side by a low, curved wall on either side of a set of gates. The south facade looks out over most of the 11 hectares of parklands, crossed by a large “canal” fed by a river. The plain, noble architecture is perfectly neo-classical with 5 bays of large windows on two levels under the attic floor, a projection topped with a triangular pediment standing in the centre of each of the main facades, with a balcony supported on Tuscan order columns on the south side, and modillion cornices. The two lower wings end in cubic pavilions. The roofs, covered with Roman tiles, are checked over every year. The 537 m² of living space is divided, on the ground floor, into three lounges, a rotunda billiard room, a bedroom, a study, two dining rooms, two kitchens, a linen room, two bathrooms, one of which has a toilet, and a toilet. The upstairs comprises another five bedrooms and a library which takes up the central bay and opens on to the balcony in line with the parklands’ canal in the distance. Upstairs in one of the pavilions are another two quite plain bedrooms. The other pavilion, on the east side, houses a flat, currently awaiting restoration. Also in this same wing are a laundry-boiler room and a workshop. The chateau is fitted with fibre-optic broadband cabling. The radiators are heated via two air-to-water heat pumps, whilst another two air-to-air heat pumps adjust the temperature to the required level, summer and winter alike. Consumption of domestic heating oil is limited to the back-up boiler. There are six hot water tanks. Enclosed by safety fencing, a 12x4 m swimming pool with an actionable water jet and surrounded by pinewood decking, is installed at a distance from the trees so as not to be sullied. It has a powerful filtration system. The outbuildings comprise a 4-car garage, a shed, two stables and a large farm shed.

The chateau

There are two entrances to the parklands: one which, via a long driveway, leads to the main courtyard and another which, near to the west wing, is enclosed by railings, interrupted by pillars and columns. This chateau was built at the end of the reign of Louis XVIII and the beginning of that of Charles X. The stronghold that preceded it was fought over during the 16th century Wars of Religion. In a country so disrupted by the French Revolution, the aesthetic taste bears witness to an astonishing continuity: classicism took pride of place from the end of the “Ancien Régime” (Old Order) to the Restoration period. And this is an excellent example, with refined, immediately clear lines. A central building and two lower wings, ending in pavilions, are laid out in a U-shape. Two low curved walls meet on either side of a gateway in front of the courtyard and soften the rigidity of the lines. The decor is sober: two slight projections, with a triangular pediment featuring an oculus, mark the central bays of the facades. A balcony, supported by Tuscan order columns has been added to the south facade. Discreet moulding surrounds the windows: only those upstairs on the south facade and that in the centre of the north facade are topped with a straight cornice. Both the roof and the pediments are enhanced with regularly-spaced modillion cornices. This general restraint can also be seen in the low hip roof covering the main building. As if reminiscent of the old decorative motif of blind arcades, the pavilions feature some blind windows: on the first floor overlooking the main courtyard and on the ground floor of the opposite side when looking at the facade. This is a bold move which creates an unusual feature of eyes, both open and closed. In the wing on the west side, the door and window frames of the old utility rooms do not fill the entire opening made in the wall and a door provides direct access to the holiday accommodation rental unit which is full every summer.


Ground floor
The door opening on to the main courtyard is flanked by pilasters that support a refined entablature. The floors in the rooms are paved with stone as of the vestibule, opposite which, across the central corridor, a rotunda extends its oval shape as an introduction to the view of the large canal in line with the parklands. On either side of the rotunda, two large lounges, with parquet flooring and fireplaces, are particularly bright courtesy of their two large, south-facing windows. The original trumeaux still house their mirrors. The meticulously moulded and decorated ceiling cornices in these three reception rooms are all different. Opposite one of the lounges: the back stone stairway that goes up to the attics, a study and a linen room and, on the same side as it, a third entrance into the house, the one used every day. The main dining room is the first room in the west wing. It communicates with the kitchen via a door and a moulded wood, semi-circular tower serving hatch. Black inlaid decoration embellishes the paved floor. A tall, decorative, half-dome-shaped alcove is flanked with Ionic order pilasters. In the kitchen, with a window on the west side and another facing east over the courtyard, the ceiling insulation has been reinforced as in its access corridor which bypasses the dining room. The other half of the west wing is taken up by a holiday accommodation rental unit which is completely self-contained courtesy of its two accesses, one on the west side and the other in the courtyard. It comprises a through dining room, enhanced with a monumental fireplace, a kitchen, a back kitchen where a stone slab on corbels is the most original of shelves, a lounge, with a fireplace, a large bathroom, with a toilet, and two intercommunicating bedrooms upstairs. The architect made the decision to house the main stairway next to the vestibule for the courtyard entrance. On the east side of the main stairway is an extremely useful feature on a ground floor, that of a bedroom, with parquet flooring and overlooking the main courtyard, as well as a toilet and a large bathroom. The areas in the east wing can be reached via the main courtyard. The first owes its name to the presence of “ponnes” (traditional stone vats used for washing purposes), on a stone platform under which fire was used to boil the washing. This room, with its stone paved floor, still has its fireplace and its bread oven. It now additionally houses the central heating hot water tank, the oil tank, a back-up boiler, of a very good make, and the controls for the air-to-water heat pumps which are installed on the other side of the wall, facing east. After the laundry room comes a workshop and the machine room for the chlorine swimming pool. Said machine room also houses tanks filled with water by boreholes used for filling the pool and for watering. And lastly, the end of the wing was given over to a 4-roomed flat, the rehabilitation of which could be of great interest. An attic runs the full length of the wing.
First floor
This level, with parquet flooring throughout, is taken up by bedrooms, laid out on either side of a central corridor. Three of them, including one with a fireplace and an alcove, and a bathroom look out over the main courtyard. Two others, very big, with alcoves and fireplaces, face south. One of the latter has its own shower room and toilet. Opening on to the central balcony, with its superb wrought ironwork, on the south facade, a library, enhanced with a fireplace, has the honour of being directly in line with the large canal. The wall panelling like the bookshelf unit itself, features composite pilasters with capitals. Several of the panels conceal cupboards. The upstairs rooms with fireplaces appear to be taking part in a competition for the best trumeau, each one is different, but they all reflect the neo-classical style.
Attic
This level houses the attics, vast storage spaces, insulated in the main building where they comprise five rooms. On a lower level, they also cover the wings up to, but excluding, the pavilions.
Cellar
Several vaulted rooms extend over 65 m² under the main section of the chateau. Amongst them: a very sound wine cellar with a packed mud floor. Two 19 m² rooms, also vaulted, but with paved floors, are under the west wing. They are illuminated via basement windows and also house a well.

The parklands and the dovecote

The canal, dug in 1871 and fed by a little river, enhances the parklands without taking pride of place. The extensive planting of trees includes a little poplar grove. Three meadows, spanning a total of 1.5 ha, provide grazing and fodder for horses. The biggest two could be divided if required. The smallest, winter pasture, is sheltered from dominant winds. One of the stables, where horses can take shelter, opens on to this meadow. Near to one of the meadows remains one of the old castle’s perimeter towers: its base features loopholes, its walls are very thick. Now topped with a candlesnuffer roof enhanced with a spire, it has become a dovecote. A string course halfway up prevents rats from climbing and causing misfortune to the residents. Visitors strolling through the parklands can hear but the sounds of nature, the sight of which it is impossible to tire: the magic of the Poitevin marshes is in full swing.

The outbuildings

These outbuildings border the second driveway providing access to the chateau, on the west side, near the hamlet. Under an outstanding basket-handle-arched roofing framework and a roof covered with tiles, redone some 15 years ago, extends a 180 m², 4-car garage with two openings, a vast shed with two large doors and a stable. Another stable, with two horse loose boxes, spans a surface area of 42 m². And lastly, a large farm shed spans 250 m².

Our opinion

This is not a question of playing at knights from the Middle-Ages or of rereading childhood books, but more a case of living in a natural setting, with a ringside view of the Poitevin marshes, courtesy of a chateau that does not confuse eras. Classicism, frugal with convoluted lines and budding decor, still prevailed in the 1820’s. The architecture, kept plain, is unpretentiously linked to current day tendencies. Here the limestone walls are perfectly straight. Doors, architraves and bolts are all the same model. Minds are not needlessly distracted from their work, their relaxation or their meditation. This property is distanced from all nuisances and yet is near to large towns. The holiday accommodation rental activity carried out in one section of the house in no way disturbs the family way of life. Horses could also be happy here: three horse loose boxes are already in existence and the 10-ha estate meets all grazing and fodder requirements. Birds, paying tribute to the estate, sing beautifully in tune.

Exclusive sale

1 190 000 €
Fees at the Vendor’s expense


See the fee rates

Reference 282913

Land registry surface area 10 ha 96 a
Main building surface area 537 m2
Number of bedrooms 7
Outbuilding surface area 472 m2

Consultant


Jean-Pascal Guiot +33 1 42 84 80 85

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NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.

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