If the castles of Burgundy were missing princesses and knights, would you volunteer? These silent witnesses of history surely have a story to tell, so come and inherit the châteaux lifestyle.
Let’s start with Ancy-le-Franc, where an air of Italian Renaissance surrounds the building. The chateau belonged to the Clermont-Tonnerre family until the 19th century, and was designed by none other than Sebastiano Serlio, architect to King Francis I. We like the symmetry of this castle, and are dazzled by the purity of the light that emanates from the white stone courtyard. Inside, the collection of murals are spectacular enough to give Fontainebleau a run for its money, the home to Francis I himself. Italian painters, and Burgundian craftsmen have made their mark on this chateau, and we can still imagine the Madame la Comtesse striding around in perfect harmony with the marble floors and carved panel walls.
Again in the Yonne, you might recognise Château de Tanlay, surrounded by a magnificent moat, for its appearance in the film Angélique, Marquise des Anges. Access to the park is free, where you can wander between the moats and gardens. The interior offers further surprises with the gallery trompe l’oeil, where objects on the walls appear to be three dimensional.
In Saône-et-Loire, hop aboard a coach and travel the Route des Châteaux de Bourgogne du Sud which tours about 15 monuments, all preserved perfectly by the owners. The price of the tour included the entrance fees for each chateau. You will arrive as the Château de Sully via a driveway lined with boxwood trees. The imposing house stands ahead of you with its classic style facades and renaissance square courtyard and moat. You will be given a guided tour full of interesting information and anecdotes, before a game of hide and seek with the squirrels in the undergrowth!
Next is the Château de Couches for a jaunt in the Middle Ages, which is always a hit with children. Throughout the yeard stained glass workshops are held along with talks about this illuminating art, and there is a play club called Club Knight and Princess for the children. Meanwhile, parents can take a tour of the chateau, the chapel and the immaculate gardens that are home to a number of charming animals.
Another legacy of the Middle Ages, the Château de Commarin between Dijon and Beaune is one of the few French chateaux not to have been looted during the French Revlution, and the same family have lived there for 900 years. The old medieval strong house has changed throughout the years, and now resembles an elegant 18th century castle on the water.
Restored by the Regional Council, the medieval fortress of of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois has jumped forward in time and now offers you interactive touch screens to discover its 800 years of history. There are a number of summer events held at this chateau, which are always a lot of fun.
Further north of Côte-d’Or, the Château de Bussy-Rabutin owes its name to a colorful character: the Count of the same name. A Writer but also courtier and an especially impertinent one at that, he was driven out for having unveiled Louis XIV’s secret love interest. Today we still find the playful spirit of the owner with the portrait gallery containing a number of humorous pieces.
In Nevers, the Palais Ducal, considered the first chateau of the Loire, was the Gothic residence of the counts and dukes of Nevers. The symmetry of its facades and decoration of dormers give it a distinctly renaissance air. A guided tour is organised every Sunday from April to October at 3.30pm. Inquire at the tourist office installed in the chateau.
So if you want to play prince and princess for the day, what are you waiting! The dream is waiting for you in the chateaux of Burgundy.
Live the life of the chateaux
Visit the Château de Pommard, where a wine tasting is offered from nearby appellations, inside their beautiful vaulted cellar. If you taste something you enjoy you can pick it up in their shop! www.chateaudepommard.com
Coup de coeur at the Château de Rully welcomes children under 12 years old for a free workshop where they can try out princess and knight outfits. For 5€ they are invited to make their own shield or reproduce a model of the chateau façade. www.chateauderully.com
Sleep like a Prince
The Château Le Sallay is located just a few kilometres from Nevers and offers you to come and relax and spend the night in one of their 20 comfortable rooms. Drop off your bags and take a dip in the pool! www.lesallay.com
For more information, visit Burgundy-tourism.com