A look back at Chateau Thoiry in the Yvelines!!!

Looking back at the places we have been as a family ,so many, I have come to realized sometimes do not write enough on certains ones. This is one of them, this is a wonderful castle and property that even one blog post won’t do justice. A must to see away from Paris. I have written some spots in several of my posts in the past, this is the first time stand alone. Enjoy it.

I am talking about the Castle of Thoiry and the Animal park or zoo that is there. Château de Thoiry is a Renaissance castle located in Thoiry in the Yvelines department 78, some 50 km west of Paris, and 30 km from Versailles. The roads are nice quaint the real pleasure of driving in Europe, you have the D11 that cuts the town in half, towards Villiers-Saint-Frédéric and the N12 to Septeuil, the D45 goes to Richebourg and then Maule and Orgeval. The D119 runs almost the length parallel to the D11 to get you to Beynes and Hargeville. The closest train station is at Beynes 7 km and Montfot-l’Amaury-Mére at 8km.

A bit of history I like. Raoul II of Moreau, grandson of the first owner of the building, led the castle’s one and only sale of its history. On May 1, 1612, he provoked a duel and killed Ann le Blanc de Rault at the gates of the castle. Condemned to death for this murder, he exiled himself to Rome. His property seized, the Château de Thoiry was entrusted by the king to Guillaume Marescot. Since its acquisition in 1612 by Guillaume Marescot, the Château de Thoiry has remained for thirteen generations the property of the same family, the transmission often being by women.

Angélique de Marescot married Charles de Machault Arnouville , later Charles must leave Angélique to find his troops, since he is in the regiment of Languedoc-Dragons (he will be Colonel in 1780). During those years when Charles will be away from Angelica regularly, they will write 1500 letters of love, 6000 pages in total. These pages kept in the archives of Thoiry are a gold mine where we find the small details of daily life of the times.

At the dawn of the Revolution, Angélique de Bandi, Charles de Machault and their children are in Paris. They left the capital after the Bastille took refuge in Thoiry. The family was denounced in December 1793 by the teacher at the Montfort Battalion at the city’s supervisory committee. He was reportedly saying that Charles ‘ son-in-law and brother had emigrated abroad, which was a punishable offence. They were therefore arrested on 20 May 1794. Condemned to the guillotine, they were rescued extremist from death. It was after the fall of Robespierre that the chain executions stopped. They were released on October 25, 1794.

Eugene, comte de La Coourse, his wife and Marie Hélène Béjot had made a vow at the beginning of the war of 1914: If the Germans had been stopped before Thoiry, they would consecrate the chapel to the Sacred Heart. Exhausted from the war, Eugene died in 1919 of the Spanish flu. His widow realized his vow to built the Chapel.

During WWII, Thoiry was often chosen by the German Army as a resting place for his troops in 1940, the Countess of La Coourse was told that her son, Lieutenant Antoine de la Coourse had avoided his regiment being surrounded in Belgium. , but that he had been wounded three times and left for dead. Saved by a German surgeon, Antoine was repatriated.

The castle, open to the public since 1965 by Count Antoine de La Coourse, is also famous for its zoo animal park. The entire castle does not visit. Only a few rooms on the ground floor are open to the public. The room with the staircase of honor is adorned with four tapestries of the Goblins series The Love of the gods, the arms of the poet Guillaume Budé: Venus in the bath, Diane returning from the hunt, the myth of Narcissus, and the abduction of Europe. In the entrance are several portraits, one of which represents Marie-Hélène Béjot, Countess of La Coourse.

Chateau Thoiry Chateau Thoiry

Salon of the Matin (morning room) this room retains a collection of porcelain plates. The furniture consists of several armchairs of the 18C, one of the Regency style, the other of Louis XV style, a last Louis XVI style. The chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart after WWI vows. The stained glass windows represent, among other things, two angels bearing the arms of Raoul and den Motet (referring to their participation in the 1248 Crusade). A Virgin to the Child and Enfant in stained glass, ceramic made by Della Robbia adorns the interior. The oak altar dates from 1754.

The Archive room of the Château de Thoiry retains several tens of thousands of documents, of which only a few are visible. These include several letters (signed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Châteaubriand, Rodin, Lamartine, Eugène Sue, George Sand…), genealogical trees, photographs, miscellaneous objects, medals and official documents.

Salon of the Tapisserie is a room that owes its name to the tapestry of the goblins of which it is adorned. The exhibition has several portraits: one representing the Chancellor of Ponchartrain, the other Jean-Baptiste de Machault Arnouville. The lounge is also furnished with two 17C busts and a 17C Dutch chandelier.

The  Lounge Vertes Salon has a monumental 19C fireplace, a copy of the Renaissance chimney of the hotel Vogüé de Dijon. The furniture consists in particular of a series of armchairs, sofas and shepherdesses, a Dutch marquesy of the 17C, a small table of the 17C in fine marquetry supported by four gilded wooden caryatids, and a 17C dog bed. The piece also retains a tapestry representing king Henri IV chasing the Lion and a collection of portraits such as the  Portrait of Young Girl by Nicolas de Largillierre, Portrait of Galéas de Marescotti, Portrait of king Louis XV Child by the workshop of Hyacinthe Rigaud, portrait of Monsieur le Duc d’Orléans representing the brother of Louis XIV.

The large vestibule, covered with woodwork, is furnished with a chest-style inlay and a Regency-era ice, surrounded by two Roman busts. The rest of the furniture consists of the car chair of Charles de Machault Arnouville and a cassone, wedding chest dating from 1450, brought back from Italy by the Marescoti and restored in 2007. The vestibule is adorned with several portraits including two pastels representing Jean-Baptiste de Machault Arnouville and his wife Geneviève Rusty, a Portrait of a gentleman by Nicolas de Largillierre and a portrait of Alexandre Millan by Hyacinthe Rigaud.

The libraries are surmounted on their cornices of Imari vases of Japan. They retain a collection of old works of music salon or white salon furnished with two shepherdesses , an office in fine marquetry and above a roll signed Lardin, a table of Migeon stone, sofas and armchairs.  Due to club Père, tens of tapestries of Aubusson illustrating the fables of La Fontaine, armchairs made by Pissard and Jean, rafraichissoirs of China offered by king  Louis XV, and a harpsichord painted in 1750, near forty years after his realization, of grotesques and monkeys musicians by Christophe Huet, animal painter of the king.

This Angelique room owes its name to the various women bearing the name of Angélique who were the owners of the castle: Angélique de Bandi, Angélique de Marescot, Angélique de Vogüé and Angélique Apougny. The furniture of the room consists of a Migeon stone reading, a Regency-style dresser and another of turcot, corners, benches and a canopy bed, a dresser decorated with bronze. The walls are adorned with several portraits: a portrait of Angelique representative of a young Marescot, a portrait of Angelique representative of Vogüé, a portrait of Angélique Apougny and another of Michel de Marescot by Nicolas de Largillierre, a portrait of Angélique de Bandi and a portrait of Charles de Machault.

The Chinese boudoir retains an 18C hairdresser, a spittoon, and a cane chair concealing a pierced chair. The painted silks of the boudoir were imported from Asia in the 18C. The gardens of 450 hectares are wonderful see below.

The Animal park takes place within the domaine of Château de Thoiry, located on the rural communes of Thoiry and Villiers-le-Maca. Opened in 1968 and first managed by its founder, Antoine de la Coourse, then by his son Paul, it is now managed by Antoine de la Panouse since 1968. This Zoological Park, which extends over 150 of the 450 hectares that includes the estate, presents about 750 animals belonging to approximately 46 species of mammals, 26 species of birds and 9 species of reptiles. It also has amphibians and invertebrates. It features a safari party, visitable by car, a more traditional pedestrian area and a 126 hectares botanical park comprising several theme gardens: Autumn gardens, perfumes, English, Labyrinth, Rose Garden, and an inverted floor.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is worth a detour are.

More on the castle and park at official webpage : https://www.thoiry.net/

See the Paris tourist office in English: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/72776/Parc-zoologique-de-Thoiry

City of Thoiry webpage in French: http://www.thoiry78.fr/Frameset-Histoire.html

Hope it helps. Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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