Tuesday, 14 May 2013

In search of Puss'n Boots at Chateau de Breteuil

There really is a fairytale castle. It's in a good state of preservation and is well worth a visit.

The Château de Breteuil is located 35km from Paris, in the Chevreuse valley. Built in the 17th century, it has belonged to the Marquis de Breteuil since 1712. This chateau encloses wonderful pieces of furniture, and reminds us of the history of this family along with the history of France, with 50 waxworks from the Musée Grévin.

 The waxworks include several famous people; Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Edward VII Prince of Wales, Gambetta. These personages had personal dealings with the family who inhabited the castle. The same family has owned the property since 1604 and were closely associated with French royalty. You can see influences of Versailles in the panelling and decoration.
 The 18th century decoration includes lots of lacquered pieces of furniture, Gobelins tapestries, royal Swedish tableware and paintings of French Kings or the Breteuil family. The masterpiece is the "table de Teschen", encrusted with 128 precious stones; it was offered to Louis-Auguste de Breteuil by the Empress Marie-Thérèse. The chateau is surrounded by French gardens and English gardens.

There aren't a lot of flowers but there are hedges, pools, fountains, a pigeon tower. The forest trees are magnificent. I especailly admired the frog pool or Grenouilliere which, alas, was uninhabited on this occasion. The lawn walk to it is bordered by magnificent rhododendrons which were not quite in flower.
 Beyond this pool you can see a wonderful vista of forest and lakes in the Chevreuse Valley with every shade of green imaginable. The property is enormous.
There is an old glaciere. This is a very deep well covered by a brick structure. In winter, the ice off the lakes was brought into the glaciere and compacted. It was so thick it stayed frozen for months and provided a great way to conserve food. Ice could also be taken into the chateau for meal requirements. 

At 4.30pm a group of performers act out selections of Perrault's fairly tales. Throughout the chateau and outbuildings you can view displays of these tales such as Puss'n Boots, Cinderella, Tom Thumb. In the grounds is a little house with a sound and mannequin display telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood. There are animated cats doing things in various rooms and there are many dioramas of various historical activities mostly centred around mealtimes.

During the French Revolution the owner was only a child so the chateau was spared and consequently there is all the original furniture, books and ornaments still in place. Paintings given to the owner by Louis XVI are proudly displayed as are the family ancesters. One was Gabrielle Emile de Breteuil who was fond of science (unusual in those days). Voltaire was deeply in love with her and his works (original) are on display as is the furniture created to illustrate the fables of La Fontaine which was made in 1771 and has always been in the chateau.

The chapel contains two stained glass windows form the cathedral of Chartres, very nice, and there are priestly vestments on display as many noble families had members in the clergy.

Marcel Proust was inspired by the Marquis de Breteuil and was a guest at the chateau around 1900.

This is one of the more interesting chateau to visit because it's still original and tourism works for it. I actually thinks there were parts of the grounds I missed because i wasn't atentive enough to the map. Never mind - still a good visit.

The Facebook address is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ch%C3%A2teau-de-Breteuil-officiel/280436375301433


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