Chateau de Valencay, Loire Valley
Discover Chateau de Valencay
Although slightly remote from most of the famous Loire Valley castle, Valencay is one of the most grand among them - an effect further enhanced by the very impressive gardens that surround the castle, with meticulously maintained French style gardens close to the main buildings, and a more natural 'english style' park a little further away.
History of Valencay Castle
The castle was originally built in the 15th century, on a smaller scale than the current castle, then substantially rebuilt in the first half of the 16th century (by the same Estampes family), predominantly in the renaissance style that was fashionable at the time.
It was subsequently acquired in 1747 by the Scottish banker John Law, a fascinating character who was a brilliant banker, but who was also responsible for the virtual financial collapse of France in the 18th century in what became known as the Mississippi Bubble (not unlike the financial 'bubbles' that we have seen in recent years, that usually result in serious financial troubles when the 'bubble bursts').
The castle was originally a long building with a substantial tower at each end. An additional wing was then added in the late 18th century, the wing and the original castle together half-enclosing a formal courtyard containing a large circular pond. Although this new wing is in a more classical style than the original castle, the two blend together very harmoniously.
In 1803 the castle was purchased by the diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand - one of Napoleon's most important ministers. It was at this time, when Talleyrand was entertaining the great and the good among the leaders of Europe in the castle, that King Ferdinand VII of Spain and his family were held captive for several years, on the orders of Napoleon.
During the Second World War the château was spared by the German Occupation as its owner, the Duke of Valençay, established his personal neutrality as the Prince of Sagan. By this fashion some important treasures that had been evacuated from the Louvre in Paris (such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo) were safely stored here during the war.
Visiting Valencay castle
Within the castle itself you can see numerous finely decorated apartments, many featuring the rich furnishings added by Talleyrand to impress foreign dignitaries, and including the apartments where the King of Spain was held - in some considerable luxury - during his time of imprisonment.
Apart from the castle itself, and the extensive gardens, Chateau de Valencay is now very much a local attraction with lots of activities and entertainment (such as a substantial labyrinth, children play areas and historical re-enactments) targetted at all ages.
Allow the best part of a day for your visit - the castle is open mid-March to mid-November, entrance charge around 11 euros per person.
See more Loire Valley castles.
Map of Chateau de Valencay and places to visit
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Address: Valençay, Châteauroux, Indre, Loire Valley, 36600, France || GPS: latitude 47.1575, longitude 1.563333
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Valencay: recommended detour
- Veuil: ville fleurie 4* (5km)
- Jardin du château de Bouges: remarkable garden (15km)
- Bouges-le-Chateau Castle: national monument (15km)
- ZooParc de Beauval: zoo or wildlife park (19km)
- Vatan: village d'etape (21km)
- Montresor: most beautiful village (27km)