The Château de Tocqueville was originally a manor house constructed over three different periods during the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. While retaining its smooth appearance, the architectural diversity gives the château its particular charm. It is most famous for being the home of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859), famous intellectual, sociologist and politician. When he saw it for the first time in 1833, he was immediately charmed by its feeling of serenity. In 1836, after the death of his mother, he inherited the property. It became the place where he and his wife Marie found tranquility and inspiration and where he worked on his books, including The Old Regime and the Revolution and his most famous work, Democracy in America. The château is still a private residence safeguarded by the current Countess de Tocqueville and rarely open to the public. However, the grounds of the château are open during the Journées européennes du patrimoine (European Heritage Days) which took place last weekend (18 – 19 September). In the 16th century, the property consisted of a large Norman house flanked by two round towers. A third tower which served as a pigeonnier (dovecote) stood at the extreme edge of the courtyard and was accessible through a porch. In 1840, the porch was moved stone by stone in order to create more space for the courtyard. Already in the 16th century, the house was considered a noble house, as indicated by the band that encircles the stone dovecote. In those days only noble landowners could maintain dovecotes on their property. Inside the dovecote, there are 2500 boulins (boxes where pigeons could rest). In 1661, the manor became the property of the Clérel family through an alliance with the local Rampan family. By becoming the owners of Tocqueville, they took the name of the fief. Since that time, the château has belonged to the Tocqueville family and has never come up for sale. Throughout the 18th century, the Tocqueville family created allies through marriages with large families close to the royal court. This improved their financial position and permitted the conversion of the manor into a château. The current façade was added and the southern wing was extended. The château was made complete with the construction of the guardhouse and commons. During the French Revolutionary period, there was no major impact on the property except for the destruction of the dovecote’s roof, symbol of nobility, and the black blurring of the word "king" in the literature of the library. In the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville wanted to build an English garden, which was fashionable at the time. He knocked down fences and the surrounding the groves and converted the space by adding a large pond to the front of the château. Finally, in 1896 Count Christian de Tocqueville added Renaissance inspiration to the chateau by building the square addition to the southern wing. In 1954, a fire devastated the château. The family decided to rebuild everything in the original style and the chateau was brought back to life. The words carved in granite above the main door are in Latin: HOSPES INGREDERE BONI VULTUS ADERUNT which roughly translates to “All guests who enter are welcomed”. The roof was clad in schist from Tourlaville and the pointing done in lime mortar, typical for many homes in the Val de Saire. One enters the property through a tree-lined avenue and arched gateway. After that, one must take a right through the commons which has its own bake house, garden with apple press and a large festival hall used to exhibit works based on the life of Alexis de Tocqueville. As a guest visiting the château I was welcomed by young children who were “selling flowers for free.” They were charming! L’église St-Laurent in the village is a fine building from the early 18th century. It is designed as a nave flanked by an aisle. The portal and the three lancet windows are in the Gothic style. A big chapel opening in the choir was constructed in the 15th century by the Hennot family, lords of Tocqueville. In 1895, the church bell tower was heightened and finished with a double-pitched roof. The only object scheduled as a historic monument is a painting of the sacrifice of Abraham from the 17th century. Also of interest are a wooden lectern, 18th century fonts and two 15th century statues (vierge à l’enfant et Ste-Marthe). Since people were beginning to file in for a wedding, I was only able to take one photo of the altar before I left.