a listed chateau, epicentre of French literature
This property is located just a few kilometres from the medieval town of Cluny, 4 hours from Paris via the A6 motorway and just 2 hours away via TGV train from Mâcon station. It is 2½ hours from Geneva and less than an hour from Lyon by train. This castle, standing between courtyard and garden, is in a wonderful setting on a wooded hillside, on the edge of a little village with less than 350 inhabitants. The commune is in the heart of an area with a wealth of heritage, marked by the influence of Cluny Abbey.
The castle has a 300° view over the surroundings. Gardens follow the natural lie of the land and provide an unspoilt view from the castle terrace over the area and the thousand-year-old parish church. Furthermore, a concealed door set one of the property’s perimeter walls provides direct access to Lamartine’s grave.
The listed castle
The structures of the central building date from the “Ancien Régime” (Old Order): superb 17th and 18th century features still remain. The castle and the similarly named county belonged to such famous families as Rochefort-d’Ailly or Castellane. The property’s modern form is the result of successive actions carried out by members of the Lamartine family. In 1802, Viscount-de-Castellane gave the estate to Pierre-de-Lamartine, father of the romantic poet. In 1828, the famous Alphonse-de-Lamartine commissioned extension works in a troubadour style. The castle was a forerunner in this as the era of Viollet-le-Duc had not yet begun. The neo-gothic style was then strengthened with the addition of the stairway tower and the porch.
The castle has full French Historic Monument classification for its facades and roofs as well as for some of the rooms (lounge and dining room, a bedroom and the poet’s study). The outbuildings are also listed.
The facades are composed of ochre-coloured quarry stone blocks, very often protected by a similar coloured rendering. Wide stretches of the courtyard walls, on the west side of the residence, are covered with old wisteria. Despite its somewhat feudal appearance, the castle is brightly illuminated via wide windows. Impressive mullioned windows alternate with ogee, arched and straight windows. Any yet, this diversity in no way spoils the air of unity exuded by the property. The local tile roofs blend beautifully with the colours of the walls.
A terrace supported on a basket-handle arched gallery, with four-lobed balusters, runs the length of the south and east facades. The first floor is, therefore, enhanced with an exceptional feature, providing a view of the entire valley.
The west side of this level comprises two dining rooms and kitchens composed of four rooms. On the east side, a hall area, to the right of the main stairway, leads via a small stairway to a set of five rooms, two-thirds underground.
Both dining rooms are outstanding for different reasons: the first, vaulted and square in shape, is lined with rocaille-style panelling. A Louis XV style fireplace enhances this room, the floor of which is covered with hard stone, finely sculpted into diagonal shapes. The second, spacious dining room is set in the south corner of the residence. Its features include herringbone pattern parquet flooring, Louis XVI style panelling and a Louis XIV style pink marble fireplace. Two sets of ogee windows and French windows make this room a haven of light.
On the other side of the monumental stairway, a wonderful, old kitchen, with clearly visible authentic features such as old floor tiles, exposed joists, a large fireplace and a stone sink, has been abandoned in favour of a modern fully-fitted kitchen.
And lastly, five vast, sound, semi-underground cellars take up most of the east facade.
The spiral stairway gives access to the state rooms.
A library is the central room on this level: a large fireplace, vast windows and wide exposed joists bearing coats-of-arms bestow it with a majestic air. It provides access to two lounges: one is lined with 18th century panelling and adorned with trumeaux; the walls in the other are lined with red velvet. All the floors are covered with herringbone pattern parquet flooring.
The south facade comprises five rooms where the memory of the great poet is particularly vivid: a vaulted, wallpapered study, which still has the poet’s own furniture, precedes a vestibule giving access to a brightly illuminated bedroom. The walls are covered with Cordoue leather, enhanced with gold. A polychrome fireplace, made by Lamartine’s wife, also a pianist, earned this room its listing. All these rooms can access the wide terrace which provides extremely pleasant views over the parklands.
The west facade comprises five rooms: a bedroom and studies. Their sizes make it possible to envisage conversion into bedrooms. They include beautiful features such as period fireplaces and solid parquet floors.
All of these rooms are in a satisfactory state of repair.
This level is taken up by ten bedrooms and three bathrooms.
The main stairway gives access to a long corridor that leads to shower rooms and four large bedrooms, on the east side. Another four bedrooms are laid out along the south facade, with yet another three on the west facade. Overlooking the courtyard, these can be directly reached via the central stairway.
All the rooms are filled with beautiful finishing touches: parquet flooring laid in randomly-matched, diagonal and Savoy patterns; fireplaces reflecting Louis XIV, Louis XV and Empire styles as well as moulding. Some rooms, however, have a faded appearance, notably as regards their wallpaper, but they are even so in a satisfactory state of repair.
The stairway ends in a landing: a single pillar supports a palm tree-shaped vault.
Wide attics alternate with maids’ bedrooms. Parquet flooring and features painted to imitate wood give these bare areas a certain character.
The outbuildings, adjoining the north side of the castle, form a vast closed courtyard. On the west side, tall, old carriage gates provide the main access to the outbuildings. All are constructed from ochre-coloured quarry stone blocks: the carcasses appear to be in a good state of repair, the interiors show signs of some wear and tear.
The south side of the rectangle is formed by the old orangery. Wide windows on the ground floor look out over the castle courtyard. A clock turret forms the corner. One room is still bare, the other, converted, is used as a ticket office for castle visitors. The upstairs of the building housed a boarding school dormitory in the 1920’s; its condition is unchanged.
The east side is composed from south to north as follows: a woodshed, housing the recent boilers (one oil-fired, the other wood-fired), is followed by a large tack room, showing signs of some wear and tear, and car garages which are currently used for storage purposes. An opening into the garden precedes the old kennel and rabbit hutches.
Following on, the north side comprises a henhouse and a dovecote, the roof of which is covered with glazed tiles. The wing continues with a farm shed.
The west side is formed by a large caretaker’s cottage, part of the ground floor of which comprises an old press-house with wide joists and a paved floor, the other section was an old cowshed. Upstairs are a kitchen and a shower room as well as five rooms, with superb parquet flooring and fireplaces, all awaiting restoration. Two workshops stand next to the carriage gates. On the other side of this impressive entrance are vast stables with a packed mud floor. A room upstairs is used for storing hay.
The slopes of the property, extending over more than four hectares, are planted with miscellaneous species of trees over a hundred years old. Immaculately kept without being sophisticated, the fenced garden ensures the castle remains in a rural setting: woods and pastureland stretch out on all side. A river flows along the bottom of the large sloping lawn. The grounds also include a vegetable garden and a greenhouse.
Dominating the countryside around Cluny, this tall, robust castle is but a reflection of its natural surroundings. Generations have drawn inspiration from this melting pot of the first Romanesque art. The famous French poet, Alphonse-de-Lamartine, who greatly influenced these walls, resumed the home of his mediations in poetry for Victor-Hugo in 1835:
“Au sommet d’un léger coteau
Qui seul interrompt ces vallées
S’élèvent deux tours accouplées
Par la teinte des ans voilées…
C’est là que l’amitié t’appelle.”
In the shade of the bell-tower built by Cluny’s first monks, Lamartine’s spirit is still very much alive. Nestling in its verdant setting, this emblematic place is steeped in potential. As it is in a very satisfactory general state of repair, new owners could concentrate their efforts on finishing touches or try to give a new lease on life to the outbuildings which are but waiting for such an opportunity. Cluny is also in a land where horses reign.
|Land registry surface area||4 ha 5 a 65 ca|
|Number of bedrooms||12|
|Main building surface area||875 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||750 m2|
Patrice Besse +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.