An 1810, listed, neo-Palladian style chateau,
resulting from and bearing witness to fervent enthusiasm
Vitry-le-François, MARNE champagne-ardennes 51300 FR

Location

5 hours from Geneva via the A39 motorway and 2⅓ hours from Luxembourg. Paris is 200 km away.
100 km from Troyes but near to several towns including Vitry-le-François and Bar-le-Duc, an outstanding Renaissance town.
In the middle of a sleepy village with less than 200 inhabitants, in the wonderful Saulx Valley, dotted with interesting architectural heritage.

Description

Archives refer to a chateau built on this site under the reign of Louis XIV in order to protect “people, furniture and farm animals”. Its owner, wanting to offer his young bride a residence worthy of her around 1810, decided to have another chateau built to replace it, this time in the neo-classical, Palladian architectural style which was very fashionable at this time. Developed as a reaction to the excessive Baroque and Rococo styles, this return to classical architecture was fuelled under the First Empire by keen interest in the recently discovered Roman sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The identity of the architect is, however, unknown. The initials “AL” engraved at the top of the pediment on the south facade could be a clue, unless they belong to a stonecutter who worked on the construction. Whatever the case, the architect was undoubtedly inspired by villas built during the Renaissance period by Italian architect Andrea Palladio. In addition to classical architectural codes, many of his theories are also used here, including the integration of the chateau into the surrounding countryside and the attention paid to the building’s proportions, the facades being designed to give residents the widest possible panoramic view.
This property is accessed via heavy wrought iron gates, flanked by two brick pavilions, only one of which has been restored, the external walls being all that remain of the second.
The bread oven and the dovecote are symmetrically set out in front of the chateau’s facade. These two elegant, lime-rendered constructions were built at the same time as the chateau.

The chateau

This highly impressive chateau, with its block, almost square layout, dominates the village from the top of a knoll. The symmetrical, balanced and harmonious Palladian style is enhanced by the discreet nobility of the materials, stone from Savonnières for the masonry and slate from the French department of Meuse for the roof.
The south facade which can be glimpsed from the two entrance pavilions is the most majestic with its wide classical portico, lined with Ionic order columns and pilasters with capitals, enhanced with a triangular pediment, a colonnade that stands on the lower section.
The garden level, predominantly comprising utility rooms, is accessed via three elegant, semi-circular arched doors. On either side, a flight of steps leads up to the portico, the tall rectangular windows of which are topped with corbels adorned with dentil dripstones. The moulding of the entablature on the main facade continues on the upper section of the two lateral facades, facing east and west. Slightly protruding string courses finely enhance the sills of the windows which are semi-circular arched on the ground floor and rectangular upstairs. Once again with symmetry in mind, the four central openings are isolated from the side openings via a slight projection of the facade. Said projection, of just a few centimetres, means that the side facades resemble the two main facades. Only a carriage door, on the ground floor of the west facade, breaks the regularity of the arrangement. The rear facade, facing north, looks down on the Saulx Valley. It appears to negatively reflect the contour and profile of the main facade. More sober, it comprises a protruding projection in the central section, topped with a triangular pediment.


Garden level
This level comprises the large kitchen which still has its original features, notably a stone sink and a “potager” (a secondary hearth where soups are cooked on embers). The impressive fireplace takes pride of place in the middle of the room which has large flagstones on the floor.
A vestibule, paved with terracotta floor tiles, separates it from a bedroom, adjoining a vast shower room able to accommodate disabled persons. The floor is covered with time-worn, octagonal terracotta tiles.
In addition to several cellars, a storeroom and a room for the recently installed, efficient boiler, this floor comprises a room spanning almost 100 m² which opens on to the garden.

Ground floor
The south peristyle, reached via the two flights of external steps, provides access to the first or noble floor of the chateau. The vestibule stands out courtesy of its refined stone aura. Octagonal, natural limestone floor tiles with inlaid black marble decoration have replaced, like-for-like, the original tiles which have been covered up. The walls are decorated with painted, stone trompe-l'oeil motifs and the ornate cast iron radiators feature Rococo style foliated scrolls.
On the right-hand side is the private section with a study, a bedroom with a marble fireplace and ladder pattern oak wood flooring, a shower room, a separate toilet and a ladies’ sitting room used as a dressing room.
On the left-hand side of the vestibule, a wooden spiral stairway, with a view up to the roof, provides access to all the floors.
The atrium, a distant reminder of Roman houses with its imitation marble paintings, is a major feature of Palladian villas. Taking up a central position, this rectangular area is illuminated via a vast glazed section in the roof. Four sets of majestic black double doors, with gold leaf decoration, provide access to the adjoining rooms. Four lateral, semi-circular arched recesses geometrically structure the room by cleverly concealing the heating system in the lower section.
The large lounge is the main reception room. Steeped in light, it provides a panoramic view over the parklands and the Saulx Valley. The omnipresent panelling brings the Louis XVI style, with sparser decorative features, to mind. The openings are flanked with pilasters topped with Corinthian order capitals featuring acanthus leaves, a symbol of eternal love. The wooden panelling is adorned with motifs representing Greek style incense burner-shaped vases with handles. The flowers filling them are taken from the lovers’ repertory which is also reflected in the quiver and torch symbols decorating the panels that top the four mirrors. Venus, the goddess of love, seduction and beauty, takes pride of place on the impressive gypsum corniche. The refinement of the decoration in the main lounge matches the elegance of the herringbone pattern parquet flooring. The unusually positioned marble fireplace is set out under a large picture window.
Next to the main lounge, a small lounge with an alcove provides access to the rear terraces via a French window.
The dining room is where neo-classical etiquette stands out most. Painted directly on to the cob, the neo-Pompeiian frescoes reproduce classical motifs and fret friezes on a sage green background.
The library appears to be the result of knocking two old rooms into one, judging by the discontinuity in the wooden flooring. This impressively furnished room, which is almost secret as it is set back behind the pantry, comprises double doors topped with semi-circular arched recesses. A black marble fireplace, dating from the late 19th century, has been put back in position for decorative purposes. A door, on its left-hand side, provides access to the peristyle.
Two west-facing windows give an unobstructed view of the chapel and the parklands.

First floor
The landing provides access to a vestibule decorated in the Empire style, an allusion to the construction period which contrasts with the rustic character of the terracotta floor tiles. It leads to a large, 52 m² suite, with a small lounge and a bathroom, and is extended by a mezzanine looking down on the atrium of the first floor. Imitation doors provide a symmetrical effect. A rectangular glazed section in the roof lets in copious amounts of natural light whilst concealing the upper level given over to the attic. The main purpose of this mezzanine is to provide access to five bedrooms or suites with an anteroom, a dressing room and vast bathrooms featuring resolutely modern fixtures and fittings.

The chapel

This 1837 edifice, built to replace the old chapel, was one of the first designed in France in the neo-Gothic style. Modest in size, it comprises a small nave and an apse with canted walls. It is built of dressed stone and only the main facade is decorated.
In the centre, the double, triangular-arched entrance doors are topped with a fanlight featuring an oculus. Marked by two small columns supporting an ogee arch, the doorway is flanked by two recesses resting on stone corbelling decorated with foliage, a feature that is also found in the choir of the chapel. Two octagonal turrets, on each side of the portal, are also decorated with small columns topped with small crocket capitals.
The upper section of the gable wall stands above a four-lobed decorative frieze. In its centre is a large, blind rosette bearing three trilobed motifs.
The statue that looked down on the edifice is no longer in existence although there are still a few remaining fragments of terracotta. The stained glass of the oculus above the retable and the side openings as well as the wood and plaster cross-rib vaulted ceilings are currently undergoing restoration works.

The outbuildings

The fully restored bread oven and dovecote have been converted into guest houses.
The entrance pavilion houses a small, 2-storey dwelling.
Preceded by a limestone and half-timbered building, the old, red brick stables house five horse loose boxes and storage rooms.

The parklands

Designed to favour biodiversity, the north section of the parklands is managed as a natural, wild area with hayfields and a wooded section.
On the south side, the vegetable garden is cultivated using sustainable farming methods and its aesthetic qualities make it the ideal place for contemplation. The orchard is planted with several dozen old varieties.
In the immediate proximity of the chapel is a spring which gushes at the foot of a dressed stone building. This combination appears to indicate that it was used as a fountain of devotion and its waters were credited with curative, even miraculous, powers.

Our opinion

It is said that love can move mountains. In any event, it was love that led to the construction of this attractive, prestigious building, the astonishing beauty of which was based on Italian Renaissance sources. Hence, the harmonious, embracing aura exuded by this imposing villa with its classical features, a sort of unlikely Taj-Mahal standing on open ground in the Champagne region. Everything, from the stucco cornices to the small chapel, radiates passion between these walls where a theatrical and infinitely poetic architectural style is featured. Following major restoration works, tastefully, efficiently and meticulously carried out using first-class materials, a refined and authentic atmosphere reigns throughout.

Exclusive sale

2 022 000 €
Honoraires à la charge du vendeur


Voir le Barème d'Honoraires

Reference 116765

Land registry surface area 12 ha 18 a 88 ca
Main building surface area 900 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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