with a Renaissance flair, its Remarkable Garden and its 14-hectare estate
In the Nièvre, on the edge of the Morvan, viewed from above, the castle appears to be an island of white towers set in an abundance of greenery and foliage. Bordering a gentle valley, surrounded by fields, woodlands, meadows and streams, peace and quiet are an integral part of the estate. The region is lush, the nature unspoiled.
It takes just 25 minutes to reach a town of 3500 inhabitants, with schools, services and all necessary shops. Auxerre, the capital of the Yonne, is only 1 hour away and has a rich historical heritage. The A77 motorway is 30 minutes away which puts Paris within 2 hours’ reach.
Today, a private driveway connects the main road to the property. Crossing a stream, an old stone bridge opens a view of the building: four round white towers and the main building. The outbuildings are located further away, invisible from the bridge. To the left and all around, terraced by walls and criss-crossed by paths, lies the carefully tended Renaissance-inspired garden and a rectangular canal.
The main building
The 14th and 15th century castle consists of a quadrangular enclosure flanked by towers topped with pepper pot roofs. The gunports and the thickness of the walls on the south side recall its defensive function. In 1513 a first reconstruction campaign began. The curtain walls were lowered and a main building was erected. A semi-engaged stair tower served the different levels. A second campaign, at the beginning of the 18th century, resulted in the disappearance of the staircase tower, which had fallen out of fashion, and the raising of the terrace. The present doorway appeared and the large rooms were partitioned off to allow the construction of the straight staircase. Most of the loopholes and embrasures were enlarged to become windows. Between the two southern towers, the main building has two levels and a tiled gable roof. Resting on cellars with pointed barrel vaults, the general arrangement of the facade is sober, with three bays and two elegant watchtowers on top of the corner chains. The Renaissance cross-windows have frames with mouldings surrounded by cavettos. The absence of plaster around the frames reveals some of the stonework making up the external cladding of the walls. The central axis is marked by a door with a transom, topped by a crosspiece. A moulded lancet window in a gabled dormer adorned with a pinnacle dominates the facade.
Beyond the door, an entrance hall, revealing a straight staircase, leads to the large living rooms and the kitchen. The former are equipped with monumental fire places with straight jambs and hoods. Between the two towers, a large kitchen with a paved floor, recesses and a small raised fireplace faces south. The protruding towers offer rectangular rooms, namely a bedroom and an office. A bathroom, a toilet, a utility room and a storage room complete this floor. On the ground floor, the beamed ceilings reach 3.5 metres and the parquet floors, either strip or herringbone, date from the 19th century. When the plain walls are not left bare, they are covered with tapestries or hangings with colourful patterns.
This is the piano nobile, the noble floor par excellence. An intermediate landing provides a small staircase, which allows independent access for the occupants of the rooms located in the towers. The staircase then leads to the first floor in front of a large window. It serves two large bedrooms. Each features a bathroom and a monumental fireplace. Small doors provide access to the interior of the watchtowers. The towers also offer bedrooms with a private bathroom each and a separate toilet in between. The decoration of the walls, the composition of the ceilings and the fireplaces are identical to those on the ground floor. The floors are paved with rectangular tiles. The staircase continues, giving access to the attic where the timberwork still seems to preserve its authentic symbolism: the forest. Tie beams, struts, trusses, clamps, etc. are scrupulously alternated, exposing the genius of the builders of the past.
The northern towers are connected to the main building by the old curtain walls. The rooms are circular. The north-west tower comprises four levels revealing a large room on the ground floor, complemented by two bedrooms with shower rooms, two toilets and a room under exposed beams. The north-east tower is built on three levels, concealing a vast room on the ground floor, a living room with a monumental fireplace, as well as a second living room under a spectacularly restored roof structure, a testimony to the skills of the 16th century carpenters.
Group of buildings
Initially, the large courtyard was surrounded by two large agricultural outbuildings. The northern building was demolished to open up the view of the gardens below the terrace. The buildings on the south side have been preserved, they include the boiler room, a woodshed, a sheep barn and various sheds.
It was gradually recreated, based on certain remaining or rediscovered elements. Water is omnipresent, animating fountains, ponds and moats. A formal Renaissance-inspired garden sits alongside a geometric orchard surrounded by water, with its walkway through enclosed paths lined with a variety of shrub roses. An alley of Japanese cherry blossom trees has been planted beyond the orchard along the east-west axis of the garden. The garden was awarded the Bonpland prize "Jardin en devenir" (garden in the making) and the label "Jardin remarquable" (Remarkable Garden) by the French Ministry of Culture.
The swiming pool
Built on the south side, bordered by a terrace of white stone and wooden flooring, it definitely allows the serenity of the place to be appreciated.
In addition to the garden area already mentioned, the grounds are divided into several hectares of meadows, wooded areas and wetlands.
Four white towers stand guard in the former duchy of Nivernais. Four round towers that have seen the passage of time, dwellings, curtain walls, cellars, staircases, and the seven restorations. Surrounded by countryside, with a garden that has become both the centrepiece and allegory of the estate's renewal, the buildings’ design combines the centuries with elegance and simplicity.
The castle, like many others, had set out on a path that was not its own, but a fortuitous encounter changed its fate. Restored, maintained and embellished by its owners for decades, it is now time for a happy encounter once again.
|Land registry surface area||14 ha 84 a 27 ca|
|Main building surface area||300 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||7|
Renaud Figueres +33 1 42 84 80 85
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.