owned by La-Rochefoucauld family for a thousand years
Where the Poitou region meets the Charente department, in the middle of hilly landscapes, made of plains and woods, the castle is located in a village along the river Charente.
The latter has preserved all its charm, authenticity and liveliness. The town of Angoulême and its famous comic book festival are just thirty minutes away. A train station located fifteen minutes from the village links it to Poitiers and the LGV line (1 hour 15 mins to Paris and 2 hours 30 to Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport) or to Angoulême where there are TGV trains to Paris in 2 hours.
Passed the automatic entrance gates, a long tree-lined bridle path with park and woods on one side and outbuildings on the other, turns towards the end to reveal the impressive façade. The estate stretches the length of the village or perhaps the reverse. Behind the castle, the library, chapel and estate manager’s lodge are laid out around the main courtyard in a triangle making an elegant and refined ensemble. This part of the estate overlooks the village and the river, offering a rich variety of perspectives.
Very early on the castle became the La Rochefoucauld family residence leaving behind the sumptuous official receptions. The family’s predominant place in the history of France is also linked to the relationships that it created with other countries such as the United States and notably Jefferson, great friend of François-de-La-Rochefoucauld, or again, when in 1929, Rockefeller purchased the “Chasse à la licorne” or Unicorn tapestries now exhibited in New York’s Cloisters Museum. These links and many others form the originality and the force of a property such as this one. The estate is V shaped and includes a central pavilion flanked by two towers linking the two wings and closed by another very impressive tower. Spanning three levels, the former kitchens and stunning 5m high ceiling are in the basement. The first stone was laid in 11th century and the towers, machicolation and perimeter walls all date back to that period and are a reminder of its defensive role.
In 15th century the castle underwent extensive restoration after the numerous one hundred years war sieges.
In 16th century, François II de la Rochefoucauld and his wife Anne de Polignac, together with King François I, bring Italian workers from the Italian Wars era to transform the castle into an Italian Renaissance style castle. However, it is the Duchess of Anville who in 18th century converts the castle into apartments, incorporating large windows into both facades illuminating the castle beautifully. In 19th century, after the destruction of the Revolution, much restoration work was carried out.
The facade is stone on the park side. The hip and candlesnuffer roofs are all slate and were replaced in 2001 and 2013. Once through the large wood gateway, an archway, topped with floral mosaic and closed by an atrium offers a view of the main courtyard and medieval style garden. The facade on this side is lime rendered. The windows have been changed progressively since 2003. Central heating has been installed in just part of the castle, including the kitchen, small lounge and toilet on the ground floor; a bedroom with ensuite bathroom on the first floor and above it a second bedroom with its ensuite bathroom on the second floor.
The entrance archway with its mosaic floor tiles leads, on one side, to a small lounge that opens into a through dining room featuring a beautiful coffered ceiling and kitchen that was moved up to this floor in 19th century. Behind the dining room is one of the four staircases and a small bedroom and ensuite bathroom.
On the other side of the vaulted entrance hall, a monumental staircase crowned with a large dome was built by Italian workers after the Revolution. The La Rochefoucauld were Ambassadors in Florence at that time, providing inspiration for this Italian Renaissance style, both Roman and Florentine.
Two lounges with windows overlooking the park lead into a corridor that opens into the main courtyard. One of these Renaissance lounges, has a hexagonal coffered ceiling featuring intertwining floral motifs and the initials L R for La Rochefoucauld, and is lined with wall panelling; the other lounge reflecting a Louis XVI style has a painted ceiling depicting the sky, wainscoting covering the walls and tapestries. At the end of the room a cabinet tells the story of the “Richelieu” family (Alliance). Wainscoting adorn the other rooms too. Herringbone parquet flooring in the reception room and flagstone tiles in the kitchen. Guest toilets have been created in the castle’s old lamp room. Ceilings are 4.30 m high.
Two more intimate lounges are to be found on the ground floor for a cosier family atmosphere. Four bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, two of which have their private toilet and a fifth one with a shower room. Two of the bedrooms are very formal, full of history and decorative features: they have seen visitors such as Charles Quint in 16th century and Queen Mum in 20th century. Both have their ensuite bathrooms one with a private toilet. Herringbone parquet flooring throughout and four metre high ceilings. This floor is accessed via three staircases.
Nine bedrooms five of which have an ensuite bathroom, all are accessed via a corridor. A linen room and toilet. Marble fireplaces in all rooms and parquet flooring throughout. They open into a corridor overlooking the main courtyard.
Originally, a renaissance gallery linked the castle to the library and chapel. The library had always been part of an ensemble. It is located in the centre, built on the site of a former watchtower and features a vaulted ceiling.
A gallery along the walls was added at the end of 19th century. Tapestries featuring de Medici coat of arms and depicting different mythological scenes cover the walls of this upper section. A hidden staircase goes up here from the ground floor. The bookshelves hold more than a thousand books.
The main one was restored at the end of 19th century. Their roofs were replaced in 2013. Painted motives adorn the walls and ornaments represent the different family victories.
It adjoins the castle via a gallery. Under this chapel, a 12th century apse chapel was discovered in 20th century as well as an 11th century chapel.
The estate manager’s lodge
It is the forepart of the main courtyard and comprises a tower with a machicolation. Its mullioned windows overlook the river. These rooms are currently used for storage.
The main courtyard
An ornamental pond is fed by water from the river thanks to a clever system bringing water up to a tank on the library roof and from where it is then poured. Under part of the main courtyard, there are large vaults, built together in 15th century with the consent of King Charles VII, with an additional defensive wall, after helping the La Rochefoucauld to reconquer their castle. They bear witness to defensive architecture, wall thickness is double, notably for the protection of the villagers who took refuge here in the event of an imminent threat. The main courtyard overlooks the village and the river. A 13th century tank is also located here.
They have been completely refurbished and refitted for organising events, concerts, conferences, marriages and can accommodate up to two hundred and fifty people sitting down. Inside, the original exposed stone walls and roofing framework have been preserved. The floors are waxed cement. They are equipped with a professional kitchen and restrooms that comply with requirements for welcoming the general public. Outside the facades are rendered.
From the entrance gate a driveway lined with cedar trees leads the visitor towards the castle, between large stretches of lawn that contrast beautifully with the tall conifers. The sculpted yew trees and castle façade create an elegant ensemble. Box tree borders structure this part of the park. On the river side of the estate, two terraces give access to the castle thanks to two stone staircases.
In the past, a “jeu de paume” had been installed on one of them. Below, a wash room and fish pond were built and have recently been restored by the current owners. A Five hundred year old yew is listed as a "Remarkable Tree" as it was planted by Charles Quint while on his way back from Spain and on his way to Holland.
The wooded area comprises mainly oak trees and a large bridle path. There is a right of access for a farmer who cultivates the land near the river. This last part of land (one hundred hectares with a farm house) is also for sale and could be reclaimed entirely, and without a tenant by giving notice to the farmer.
"He who lives without madness is not as wise as he thinks", one of François-de-la-Rochefoucauld’s maxims. His statue adorns the park. This maxim could become that of the future occupants. The history of the site is vast. The decorative exuberance marks its importance and each period of history has left a precious testimony. The current owners have replaced all the roofs and added many modern comforts to the castle. As is the case in such big properties, any additional works will be borne by the future occupants.
Moreover, in order to preserve the spirit of the site, it is possible to buy some of the furniture.
The French Historic Monument classification is financially attractive.
|Land registry surface area||44 ha|
|Main building surface area||1000 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||600 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||14|
Jérôme Broun +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.