” This place is one of the most beautiful on earth and no king has a more picturesque park. George Sand wrote after visiting Talleyrand.
It must be said that the master of Valençay castle was not a common prince, but a maker – and taker – of kings and emperors.
Cynical and corrupt, he took nine oaths and betrayed thirteen regimes. Despite everything, he served the best interests of the state.
Agnostic bishop, he supports the Revolution without qualms, installs Bonaparte in power, plots against the Emperor who refuses to listen to his counsels of moderation, and (already!) Will devote his action to placing France back in the heart of France. European chessboard.
Equipped with an extraordinary intelligence, it is also an exceptional diplomat.
For this reason no doubt, Bonaparte entrusted him with the ministry of external affairs and offered him, in 1802, to buy back the domain of Valençay in order to receive the great of this world. ” I want, insists the future emperor, that being invited to your home be a reward for the sovereigns that I would be happy to “.
This imperial gift – at the expense of the state, of course – did not prevent the betrayal of Talleyrand, who became a royalist again.
In 1814, he found the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the grace of Louis XVIII. Disgraced a year later, he lives a golden retirement in Valençay where he spends most of his time “fussing”.
Fifteen years later, he returned to diplomacy, appointed ambassador to London by Louis-Philippe. And he will end his life by receiving and advising the great of this world in his castle.
80 to 90,000 visitors per year
Today they are 80 to 90,000 people who visit this high place of the prince’s diplomatic arrangements and confusion.
With Chambord, Valençay is considered as one of the finest examples of the Renaissance style.
The castle is discovered by a vast avenue of plane trees behind a monumental portal. It is also the beginning of classical architecture in the Loire Valley. This is shown by the main courtyard with the façade and the formal gardens, with a baluster terrace overlooking the Nahon valley.
The interior, fully furnished, still bears the hallmarks of the luxury Napoleon wanted, to impress guests.
The lounges bring together furniture and precious objects where the Empire style takes precedence over the Louis XVI and Regency pieces.
We focus in particular on the Grand Salon with its 26 upholstered armchairs at the Spanish court, and an impressive table taken out of the Vienna embassy in memory of the congress of 1815, while the blue salon recalls that it is here that the Treaty of Valençay was signed in 1814 .
Respondent, the music fair is even more refined with its Versailles parquet floors, its sculpted woodwork and the musical instruments.
On the first floor, we enter the private apartments: Talleyrand’s bedroom, that of the King of Spain (held for six years in this golden prison), that of the Duchess of Dino (niece by marriage and nevertheless mistress of Talleyrand), of the Princess of Bénévent and of Madame de Staël.
Perfectly preserved, the large kitchens with their instruments, stoves, fireplaces, and gleaming brass give an idea of the lifestyle led at the castle and the importance of the table in diplomacy.
We end in the sumptuous park of more than 50 hectares. The Antonine garden, the picnic area, the coolers, the wolf’s jump, the play area, the small farm, the deer park are all the goals of funny and informative walks. The route can be done on foot or by electric cart.
60 cars on display
150 meters from the castle, an automobile museum showcases French heritage since 1898.
In an old garage atmosphere, the exhibition presents some sixty cars, all in working order.
It is in a way a history of the automobile in short cut with presentations of Renault, Citroën, Simca, Panhard, Delage but also an old Bugatti or a taxi from the Marne.
Added to this are old fire trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and a collection of vintage signs and posters.
This year, a temporary exhibition is dedicated to the Panhard-Levassor brand.
Petit Trianon en Berry
A few leagues from here, the castle of Bouges is another house that belonged to Talleyrand (from 1818 to 1826).
In a sober and classic elegance, this Louis XV residence strangely recalls the small Trianon of Versailles. One wonders if it is the work of Jacques-Ange Gabriel or a plagiarism of his pupil Fayetti.
Outside, an 80 ha English-style park with rare species, French gardens and a flower garden to decorate the castle.
Inside, works of art and furniture from the 18th century. Topped with Mansard-style roofs, the outbuildings house beautiful stables and a saddlery, with its collection of saddles, harnesses, boots …
Property of national monuments, this castle has often been used as a backdrop for film shoots, notably Colonel Chabert, by Balzac, with Gérard Depardieu (himself from Indre).
In the gardens of Poulaines
Not very far from Bouges, the field of Poulaines, made up of atmospheric gardens and an arboretum crossed by a stream, the Poulain.
There are large trees from the end of the 19th century: lime trees, plane trees, alders, ash trees, oaks and even a sequoia giganteum in front of the manor.
Surrounded by 20 hectares of woods around century-old trees, themed gardens, on 4.5 hectares, make it possible to make the link between the Manor (16th century – 19th century) and the Métairie, with its 2 main buildings with Renaissance frames.
We stroll around the rose garden, a water path with its irises and lavender, paths of perennials and arches lined with climbing plants. Along the stream, the English park leads from the bamboo garden to the arboretum and its 300 labeled trees.
For nearly 30 years, the owners have been giving life to this unspoiled place by restoring the buildings and creating gardens respecting the species of the 19th century.
Today, on almost 5 hectares, there are more than 1,500 trees and shrubs, perennials and bulbs maintained by four gardeners who work full time, led by Valérie Esnault, the owner.
The estate is a private space, open to the public since 2013. This site was labeled “Remarkable Garden” in December 2014. It participates in the “Gardens in the Loire Valley 2017” season commissioned by “Val de Loire Patrimoine Mondial de l ‘ Unesco ”.
In 2019, 90,000 visitors made a stopover for an educational but also fun walk. Or better yet, for a bucolic stopover in a cottage in the heart of the domain.
Phone: 02 54 35 88 26
You can have lunch at the orangery of the castle, the cuisine is neat and the price reasonable.
Phone: 02 54 35 88 26
Domaine des Poulaines
The estate offers two cottages and guest rooms for 4 and 6 people. Two independent houses for rent by the night (2 minimum) or the week. Very well appointed, beautiful decor and warm welcome by the owner. In the shop you can find excellent organic garden products (jams, honey, apple juice, etc.).
Phone: 06 73 01 15 23
Château from the beginning of the 20th century, Boisrenault has been welcoming visitors for more than 30 years. In Buzancais, at the gates of the Brenne regional park, land of a thousand ponds, the castle has five large guest rooms and two lodgings. It can be rented as a whole and has a large wooded park with games for children and a swimming pool. Possibility of table d’hôtes on reservation.
Phone: 02 54 84 03 01