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  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.

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June 19 2011 1 19 /06 /June /2011 05:06

1650 Château d'Ussé, Château de La Belle au Bois dormantThe château stands with its back to a cliff on the edge of Chinon Forest, its terraced gardens overlooking the Indre.  Its impressive bulk and fortified towers contrast sharply with the white stone, myriad roofs, turrets, dormers and chimneys rising against a green background.  Tradition has it that when Charles Perrault, the famous French writer of fairy tales, was looking for a setting for Sleeping Beauty, he chose Ussé as his model.  1654 Château d'Ussé, Château de La Belle au Bois dormantUssé is a very old fortress; in the 15th century it became the property of a great family from Touraine, the Bueils, who had distinguished themselves in the Hundred Years’ War (1337 – 1453).  In 1485, Antoine de Bueil, sold Ussé to Jacques d’Espinay.  The Espinays were Breton family who had been chamberlains and cupbearers to the Duke of Brittany, Louis XII and Charles VIII.  The château frequently changed hands.  Among its owners was Vauban’s son-in-law, Louis Bernin de Valentinay; the great engineer paid frequent visits to Ussé.  1660 Château d'UsséVoltaire and Châteaubriand were guests at the château.  The estate has belonged to the Blacas family since the late 19th century.  On the walk toward the château, a lovely kaleidoscope of roofs and turrets can be glimpsed through the leaves of the stately Lebanon cedars, said to have been planted by the great French author Châteaubriand.  1658 Château d'Ussé1656 Château d'Ussé1657 Courtyard, Château d'UsséThe outside walls (15th century) have a military appearance whereas the buildings overlooking the courtyard are more welcoming and some even carry an elegant Renaissance touch.  1670 Château d'UsséThe first building that one visits on the property is the Collégiale Notre-Dame, a chapel which stands alone in the park.  It was built from 1520 to 1538 in Renaissance style.  The initials C and L, to be found in other parts of the estate, are used as a decorative motif; they refer to the first names of Charles d’Espinay, who built the chapel, and his wife Lucrèce de Pons.  1672 Collégiale Notre-Dame, Château d'UsséAt the main entrance there are carvings of the apostles as well as four medallions which express the theme of death.  Creepy.  1674 Collégiale Notre-Dame, Château d'UsséThe lofty, luminous interior contains fine 16th century stalls decorated with carved figures.  After leaving the chapel, one can explore the wine cellars carved directly into the limestone cliffs behind the château.  1664 Château d'Ussé1665 Château d'UsséThe cellars were first dug in the Touraine limestone in the 15th century.  The longitudinal gallery gave access to the different smaller cellars used to keep wine in either barrels or in bottles.  1666 Château d'UsséThe vineyards situated on the top of the hill at a place called “Belvedère” were mainly Chenin blanc, an old variety of grape made known by Saint-Martin in the Abbey of Marmoutier during the 4th century.  A little chapel dedicated to Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse is situated at the extreme right of the gallery.  1668 Des écuries, Château d'Ussé1667 Des écuries, Château d'UsséThe old stables show off the many different carriages used at Ussé in the past.  Inside, the furniture and art collections come from the great families who lived at Ussé throughout the centuries.   1651 Château d'Ussé, Château de La Belle au Bois dormant1682 Château d'UsséThe Salle des gardes boasts a 17th century trompe-l’oeil ceiling and a collection of Oriental weapons.  1683 Château d'UsséThe Grande galerie links the east and west wings of the château.  Hanging along the walls are 18th century Flemish tapestries depicting lively, realistic country scenes in Flanders inspired by the drawings of David Teniers, a 17th century painter.  1685 Château d'UsséThe Grand escalier is a beautiful example of a straight staircase with wrought iron banisters inspired by Italian craftsmen.  It dates from the early 17th century.  1688 Château d'UsséThe dining room was renovated in 2005 and features furniture designed in Louis XVI style.  Above the fireplace is a large painting of Louis XV.  1687 Château d'UsséUnder the reign of Louis XIV, some of the larger castles were obliged to prepare rooms for the King—however, there is no evidence that any king ever stayed in this room.  1686 Château d'UsséThe original silks on the wall were woven in the 18th century with Chinese patterns fashionable at the time at a factory in Tours.  Today, throughout the château’s rooms, one can find exhibits of costumes worn by men and women from different centuries.  The fashion exhibits change every year.  1679 Château d'Ussé1681 Château d'UsséAfter visiting the decorated rooms, one can explor the old attic with its dusty treasures and admire the intricate woodwork needed to create the pointed towers.  1676 Château d'Ussé1677 Château d'Ussé1678 Château d'UsséThere are other portions of the château open to the public with rooms designed to retell portions of the Sleeping Beauty story. 1662 Les jardins à la française, Château d'UsséThe parterre terrace and the formal gardens were designed by André Le Nôtre, the famous architect of the gardens of Versailles.1661 Les jardins à la française, Château d'Ussé

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