The Loire Valley is home to a wealth of castles; Chenonceau, Chambord, Amboise and Cheverny to name but a few. The Château d’Ussé is less well-known than its counterparts, yet there’s plenty to explore there. It recounts some fascinating local history and is a great place to visit, with bedrooms, galleries, dungeons and gardens on display.
History of the Château d’Ussé
A stronghold was built around the year 1000 when the Touraine region was at war, but it was only in the Renaissance period that Joan of Arc’s companion, Jean V of Bueil, decided to make it more attractive than it had formerly been. This led to the central part of the castle and the right wing being built in the 16th century. Slowly but surely, the Château d’Ussé shook off the fortress style of its initial purpose and was transformed into a beautiful castle. Another century later, a lodge was added to the Château d’Ussé for Vauban’s daughter’s wedding. Later on, Le Nôtre was brought in to create the majestic gardens that adorn this Loire Valley castle. The Château d’Ussé is a private home which belongs to the Duke of Blancas and his family.
Sleeping Beauty’s castle
Looking at the castle, with its round towers, it conjures up images of a fairytale castle. Well, that’s no surprise – the author of the fairytale, Charles Perrault, frequented this castle himself. His heroine’s castle was in fact based on the Château d’Ussé.
Welcome to the Château d’Ussé
The castle is located in Rigny-Ussé, between the towns of Tours and Saumur, and the visit takes you round many rooms. The Duke of Blancas and his family invite you to visit their impressive property:
– the hallway with Renaissance furniture
– the Guards’ room featuring a trompe-l’œil ceiling
– the Vauban Salon with a Florentine cabinet and Brussels tapestries
– the central gallery with 17th century tapestries
– the Vault, leading to underground chambers
– the dining room, complete with Louis XV furniture and crested silverware
– the Grand Staircase featuring a sedan chair
– the antechamber with masterpiece paintings
– the King’s bedroom, where Louis XIV is known to have slept
The gardens of Ussé
Having already created the gardens at Versailles, André Le Nôtre worked his magic in the castle gardens here too. The garden features ponds and fountains designed with a clever use of symmetry and perspectives. It has citrus trees and two Lebanon cedar trees which were a gift from the Viscount of Chateaubriand who regularly stayed at Rigny-Ussé.
Cellars, stables and dungeons
The Château d’Ussé also includes a dungeon depicting scenes from the Sleeping Beauty. The stables house horse-drawn coaches, a convertible town car, a horse-drawn cart and a dogcart, so there’s definitely lots to see. Finally, you can visit the underground part of the Château carved into the “tuffeau”, the local limestone which is used throughout the region. Explore the wine cellars with its old barrels and artwork depicting the grape harvest.
And what better way to visit the Château d’Ussé than renting a castle in France of your own on the banks of the Loire? Treat yourself to a taste of the high life during a holiday near Tours.