The history of the Château is a long and storied one. The original Baron de Vézins was Hardy de la Porte, who earned the title as a reward for his participation in the first Crusade. It was his family that built the predecessor to the current Château, a redstone fort, on this site between 1200 and 1400. Any peace was short-lived, and, in the century that followed, the Château was likely under the control of the English, during the Hundred Years’ War.
During the time of the Reformation in the 16th Century, the family married into a high-ranking Protestant line. This would, however, lead to trouble for them in the ensuing century. Around 1600, Louis XIII, a staunch Catholic, ordered that Baron renounce his faith, his fortress be destroyed, and his family be killed. Luckily, the children managed to escape to Switzerland and returned to reclaim their land and titles 20 years later.
In 1708, construction of a new château on the site began. It was to replace the fort and re-used much of the redstone from the original structure, though the original moat and drawbridge were retained. The new design was laid out in the classic French style and forms the core of the house as it stands today. It was linked via a terraced passageway to a large church and had many outbuildings in the grounds. The Baron and his family used it as their primary home, controlling land, farm and other chateaux across an area of around 50km.
This all changed during the French Revolution of the 1790s. The movement massively destabilised the country as a whole, and the property only barely survived the conflict. The Baron at the time was pro-Napolean and left to fight abroad with the Revolutionary army while the Baroness, like most of the locals, was a Royalist. During the upheaval, the Château found itself at the centre of a conflict between the Revolutionary Army and Counter Revolutionaries, who had their camp in the forest a few miles away. The Château changed hands many times during this period, and the church and part of the east wing were burned down, along with much of the village. The Baroness and staff did not survive the conflict, and were executed by the armies, though luckily the children had been sent to Switzerland for their safety.
After sitting in disrepair for many years, the Château was finally brought back to its former glory in the mid-19th Century by the Baron at the time. It is during this period that the grand central entry hall – the rotunda – was added. It was also when the park was transformed by the famous landscape architect Andre Leroy into the English-style garden, including the planting of rare American trees such as the sequoia.
The splendour unfortunately was not to last, and, by 1929, the last Baron died after losing most of the family fortune playing cards. The surrounding properties were disposed of bit by bit and the house ultimately lay abandoned until 2006. In 2007 was bought by the Deschamps and Rozon families, who began a process of extensive renovation. The result of these can be seen today across the house and gardens, now restored to pristine period conditions.
Helping the Château reclaim its former splendour has been a labour of love for the Deschamps and Rozon families. The process was very hands-on with, amongst other things, the Deschamps flying in every weekend for two years to create the French gardens and the families labouring to sand and oil the first section of floors themselves.
The grounds and gardens were in an advanced state of disrepair when they purchased the property, making the task a significant one. Over the course of 10 years, the renovation entailed:
Clearing 5 tons of pigeon droppings from the 2nd floor
Replacing 100 broken windows
Renovating 77 rooms
Planting 187 trees, 312 flowers and 765 other plants
Pouring 70 tones of gravel to create the allées
Clearing 2,000 m3 of mud out of the moat
From the outset, the owners decided to undertake the process in a way that was respectful of the history and heritage of this place. This was the motivation behind using genuine antique furnishings instead of modern replicas, and entailed sourcing 26 different types of fabrics and matching paint colours to recreate period interiors. The original Château was a place of supreme luxury and no expense has been spared to reach the same standards in its new life.
As part of the restoration, modern touches have been sensitively added to the building and grounds to update the château experience for the 21st Century. This includes renovating the bathrooms and kitchen, and adding amenities like a heated pool, Jacuzzi, gym and sauna, as well as wifi throughout the house and a Sonos soundsystem. This has all been done in the spirit of the original house, ensuring an authentic luxury experience with all of the modern comforts a visitor could want.
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