Burgundy is château country and we are fortunate to have two within easy walking distance of our canal. Yesterday, we visited Le Château d’Ancy-le-Franc, in the little village of Ancy-le-Franc is an amazing Renaissance ‘palace’, built by the Italian architect Serlio who was the architect of Francois I.
It was built for Count Antione III de Clermont, the brother-in-law of the infamous Diane de Poitiers, between 1542 and 1550. The Château is built in a vast, 123 acre park, with a magnificent, formal courtyard entry and French style formal gardens, orangerie, an 18th century ‘follie’, pool, ornamental lake with delightful bridges, classical Egyptian pyramid, extensive stables and a horse ring. The ancient trees in the parklands are now famous for their nesting cranes.
We marvelled at the splendid entrance as we walked down the main avenue of huge, old trees to the front gate.
We took the one hour English audio tour and wandered, at our leisure through, this magnificent château full of history and famous French aristocrats, and marvelled at the miraculous preservation of this building over the past 400 years. How fortunate that it avoided destruction during the French Revolution, which saw many palaces and churches destroyed.
The Château is the only château in France with four equal wings forming the perfect square courtyard, inside which are rich ornamentations and architectural elements. It has been immaculately restored and is also home to one of the most beautiful collections of 16th and 17th century, mural paintings. It is the only château which has preserved decorations belonging to the first and second school of Fontainebleau, other than the royal palace itself.