castles / chateaux for sale - haute-marne - 2 hours from paris

A captivating, 16th & 18th century castle with water-filled moats
just 2 hours from Paris between the Champagne and Burgundy regions
Chaumont, HAUTE-MARNE champagne-ardennes 52000 FR


4½ hours from Brussels, 3½ hours from Geneva, 3 hours from Luxembourg and 2 hours from Paris, where the borders of the French departments of Aube and Haute-Marne meet that of the Burgundy region.
The view along the routes in this region, with it good tourist trade due to the proximity of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises and the not to be missed Clervaux Abbey, encompasses some superbly wide panoramas that include pastures, farms, wooded hilltops, ponds, lakes and old monuments bearing witness to the rich local history. The small village with less than 130 inhabitants is to be found deep in the Haute-Marne countryside. It is surrounded by woods and vast pastures forming an extremely pleasant, slightly undulating landscape.


This building was built around 1580 on the foundations of a fortified castle, the history and the construction date of which remain a mystery, even though archives refer to its existence as of 1249. For more than four centuries, up until 1670, the castle belonged to the aristocratic Saint-Belin family, originally from the Champagne region. This property, used for filming The Black Knight, directed by Gilles-Grangier, in 1945, was purchased after the war by cinema producer Edmond-Descharmes. Raimu, Fernandel and even a young Jean-Paul-Belmondo were frequent guests but its most famous visitors undoubtedly remain Marlène-Dietrich and Jean-Gabin, the star couple at that time, who stayed there for several months in 1946 during the shooting of Martin-Roumagnac’s film, the only one in which they appeared together. The couple were, moreover, immortalized in a photograph of them fishing for carp in the castle’s lake. The two superstars described the region as “a pleasant and refreshing spot in the French countryside”.
This property is in the centre of the village but is set back off the main street, only the impressive wrought iron gates indicate its presence. They are topped with the coat-of-arms of its first owners, three white rams’ heads with golden horns on a sky blue background, with its motto “Ex utroque fortis” (strong on all sides).
The castle is then reached by following a bridle path, running through the middle of the parklands, with the rustling foliage of one hundred year old trees, and then going under an elegant dressed stone entrance pavilion before crossing the moats via a stationary bridge and going into the main courtyard through heavy carriage gates.

The castle

This U-shaped castle is surrounded by moats that come together in a lake in front of the main courtyard. The main building, more than 60 m long, is linked by two corner towers to two shorter wings. It originally spanned three levels, the upper level, very probably in a Renaissance style, having been destroyed by fire during the Wars of Religion. Rebuilt over two stories, it was once again modified in the 18th century notably by the creation of new openings.
The austerity of the exposed stone on the north facade, on the moat side, contrasts with the pink rendering added on the south facade by Edmond-Descharmes. It is, however, still possible to see the Saint-Belin coat-of-arms on the left-hand side, the initials SB on the right-hand side and a broken pediment bearing their family crest above the main entrance.

Ground floor
The main entrance hall, in the centre of the main building, is a vast vaulted room. Inlaid, in the middle of the floor are the initials of the Saint Belin family. On either side are five adjoining reception rooms with Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV panelling. The original floors, in very poor condition, were replaced using tiles with green inlaid decoration, but a herringbone pattern floor remains, nevertheless, as well as an astonishing limestone floor, inlaid with a cross that can be linked to the Order of Malta. These vast rooms, with little furniture, were originally intended for special occasions, balls and shows but are currently used for art exhibition purposes by the master of the premises, Klaus-Jürgen-Fischer, an internationally renowned painter.
Each corner houses the castle’s two biggest lounges, respectively spanning 52 and 56 m². One is completely lined with natural wood Louis XIII panelling, flanking an astonishing Baroque stone fireplace, adorned with acanthus leaves and a mantelpiece enhanced with sculptures. The warm ambiance that it exudes contrasts with that of the large Renaissance lounge in the opposing corner, with its more rustic appearance comprising exposed stone walls, a monumental fireplace and a French ceiling.
The left wing houses a large, 51 m² kitchen with a monumental fireplace where it is possible to roast game whole. Its floor is covered with large flagstones bearing the patina of time. In the centre is a pillar which supported its old vault. The kitchen backs on to a room in use as a study, the cross-ribbed vaults of which probably date back to the 15th century. This is followed by a ladies’ sitting room with oak wood flooring and a wrought ceiling, the preferred room of Fernandel, where a bar was set up so that the actor could partake of his favourite tipple.
The right and shortest wing is set out around a 30 m² room, forming a small open-plan flat with a kitchen, and ends with a private oratory, with an 18th century altar and Louis XIV panelling.

First floor
Two different stairways lead upstairs. One, the so-called back stairway, is a spiral, oak wood stairway, located in the right wing next to the chapel. The other, in the left wing, is a monumental, straight flight stairway, more than 1.60 m wide, each step being made of a large block of stone.
A gallery, open on the moat side, provides access to seven bedrooms, spanning between 20 and 36 m², with adjoining bath or shower rooms. With their oak wood floors, their terracotta tiles and their marble fireplaces, they all look out over the main courtyard and provide magnificent views stretching beyond the lake to the pastures and surrounding hills.
A library takes up the central section of the floor. The corner towers have large rooms, one spanning 40 m² and the other 65 m², which are currently used by the owner as artists’ studios. Two maid’s bedrooms, with sloping ceilings, are set up on the second floor of each tower. An attic covers the full floor surface area of this level under a slate roof, in pristine condition.

Our opinion

“Strong on all sides”, proudly proclaims the old Saint Belin coat-of-arms. “Admirable from all points of view”, will add visitors as they experience the romantic and austere, mysterious and charismatic atmosphere exuded by the castle. Apart from a few concessions made to modernity, this building has come down through the ages without alteration, the miscellaneous interior conversion works having kept the original layout of the rooms and just modified their use. Whilst the tall facades, set back directly above the water-filled moats, impose from the outside a soothing image of tranquil strength, even if wide openings have long since replaced the original loopholes. The right balance between refinement and simplicity which reigns throughout the estate did not, moreover, escape the stars of the seventh art that stayed there, beginning with the Gabin-Dietrich couple who it appears spent some of their happiest hours there.

875 000 €
Honoraires à la charge du vendeur

Voir le Barème d'Honoraires

Reference 108149

Land registry surface area 4 ha 44 a 63 ca
Main building surface area 971 m2

French Energy Performance Diagnosis

Regional representative
Aube, Marne Region

Florence Fornara       +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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