Château de Villandry, the castle!!

And we went back to the valley of the kings and the wonderful castles of my belle France. We have been to them when even visiting France but has taken me many years to be back; this was as good as any time to do this. We first went to the Château de Villandry and then the Château de Langeais! Let’s continue the tour with several posts,and now the Château de Villandry, the castle! Hope you enjoy it as we!

A bit of history I like

The Château de Villandry is a complex interweaving architecture and gardens. The last of the great palaces that were built on the banks of the Loire in the 16C, (1536) the castle brings a final touch to the research of the First French Renaissance. Throughout the Middle Ages and until the beginning of the 17C, the domain of Villandry is called Coulombiers or Colombiers and is none other than the seat of a castellany under the castle of Tours. The fortified castle of Colombiers (Villandry) remains, at this time, typical of the constructions carried out by the lords of the village. However, the primary function of this fortress and the will of this regional power is not to protect the population but to dominate it. This is why this 12C castle only defends the power of the Lord. It is in this medieval fortress of Villandry that on July 4, 1189, the “Peace of Colombiers” (Villandry) took place , during which Henry II Plantagenêt, King of England, came before Philip Augustus, King of France, to acknowledge his defeat. This treaty not only marks the conquest of Touraine by the King of France but also an essential stage in the triumph of the Capetian monarchy over the great feudal lords, foremost among them the Plantagenets, including the immense French domain nicknamed “the Plantagenet Empire. It then included Normandy, Brittany, Maine, Touraine, Anjou, Poitou and Aquitaine.  It was then that undergoing the fate of most buildings of the classical Middle Ages (11-13C), the fortified castle of Villandry was modified for the first time after the Hundred Years War in a new search for comfort and lifestyle. The completely new multiplication of crown ornaments and the boring of numerous windows in the curtain walls of this fortified castle, then convey a new notion of luxury. Today all that remains of the medieval building are the foundations and the 12C keep, modified in the 14C, which we can still guess, included, in one of the wings of the main courtyard.

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An important event took place on July 23, 1754, when Michel-Ange de Castellane bought the domain of Villandry. This French diplomat, from one of the oldest and illustrious families in Provence, was not only a brigadier of the king’s armies but also French ambassador to the Sublime Porte from 1741 to 1747. While the title of marquisate was extinguished , the last marquis of Villandry, the lordship was set up as a county in March 1758 for the benefit of Michel-Ange de Castellane.  The 18C saw the great works of Michel-Ange de Castellane such as the corner pavilion on the terrace (circa 1754). Located at the entrance to the estate, the Audience pavilion, a transition-style folly (mid-18C). The so-called “moat” room (modified in the 19C). The dining room   (modified in 1811 by Jérôme Bonaparte).   The outbuildings and the orangery (circa 1754). The pond in the jardin d’eau or water garden replacing one of the Renaissance vegetable gardens. And. the French-style flowerbeds of the water garden (mid-18C).

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This to continue with perhaps even the best period of the Belle Époque with the resurrection of the castle of Villandry by Joachim Carvallo. He enhance the castle with amongst other things the children’s room (early 20C). Joachim Carvallo’s bedroom (early 20C). Mudejar ceiling recovered during the demolition of the palace of the Dukes of Maqueda in Toledo (13C). It has the central motif of the Mudejar ceiling of the Palace of the Dukes of Maqueda in Toledo. Seated dwarf inspired by Vélasquez, Goya school (early 19C). Christ on the cross, school of Van Dyck (1620/50). La Jeune Malade, (young sick) Goya school (early 19C). The 15C Ottoman turban helmet, in damascened steel, decorated with a long calligraphic headband in the 19C.

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But in my opinion and of many others, the best most glorious contribution of Mr Carvallo was the gardens. While threatened with demolition, the castle was finally bought at the end of 1906 by Dr. Joachim Carvallo and his wife Ann Coleman, extremely wealthy heiress to great American steelmakers, great-grandparents of the current owners.. The Spanish doctor decides to abandon his brilliant scientific career in order to devote most of his time and money to returning the Villandry castle to its original state, that of the Renaissance. In particular, Joachim had the gardens reconstructed between 1908 and 1916, based on the Monasticon Gallicanum and the old boards and texts by the architect Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, dealing with a Renaissance garden typical of the 16C as he wanted to return Villandry to its authenticity. Today the castle is still furnished with several Spanish pieces of furniture and an interesting collection of paintings from different schools dominated by the pupils of Francisco de Goya and Antoine van Dyck. On the ground floor, the grand staircase with a wrought iron banister leads to the gallery of paintings and the room with the Mozarabic ceiling from Toledo (13C). Joachim Carvallo devotes the rest of his life to the restoration of Villandry and has been resting since the 15th March 1936 in the lordship vault of the Saint-Étienne Church in Villandry (see post). The doctor was also the founder, in 1924, of the first French association for the defense of private monumental heritage, La Demeure historique, bringing together the owners of historic castles; he was a pioneer in opening these monuments to the public. The current heirs continue the work of their grandfather and maintain with the same passion the castle and its gardens open to the public since 1920, thus preserving the family aspect which characterizes the residence since its construction in 1532. The current owner, Henri Carvallo , is the great-grandson of Ann and Joachim!

The official Château de Villandry: http://: https://www.chateauvillandry.fr/en/

The Touraine Val de Loire on cultural heritage such as the Château de Villandryhttps://www.touraineloirevalley.com/patrimoine-culturel/chateau-et-jardins-de-villandry-villandry/

A bit personal on the tour I took alone in the castle of Villandry! You start by the Vestibule and the miniature model of the castle room tracing the owners of the castle and their contributions. You then move on to the Salon and Cabinet de Travail or working office room, from where the donjon starts and the peace of Villandry was made (see above).Moving on to the salle à manger or dining room in the 18C style; the cuisine or kitchen . You move up to the first floor (2nd fl US) and the chambre or bedroom of prince Jerôme younger brother of Napoléon 1er who was owner of the castle for a few years in the first empire. You arrive at the chambre de Joachim Carvallo or bedroom with a great view on his gardens. Follow up with the Bibliothéque or library with works and items belonging to Joaquim and Ann Carvallo. You reach the chambre du potager or vegetable garden room with great views over the vegetable garden. Thereafter the chambre des douves or moat room styled from the 18C and was the bedroom of Mrs Carvallo (Ann Coleman) with portraits of 3 of the 6 children of the couple done by vendéen painter Charles Milcendeau. You arrive at the wonderful galerie de peintures or painting gallery with many from Spanish masters of realism and many with religious motifs. You can’t missed the salon oriental taken from the palace of the dukes of Maqueda built in the 15C in Toledo Spain. The ceiling has 3600 pieces in polychrome wood requiring a year’s work. The portraits are of Michel Ange de Castellane while he was ambassador of France to the ottoman gate present day Turkey working for king Louis XV. On the 2nd fl (3rd US) you have the chambres des enfants or children’s bedrooms, and eventually reaching the Donjon showing the visit of king François Ier to Villandry castle in January 17, 1543. Here they are shown temporary galleries of artists showcasing the nature and the gardens to end your visit in the boutique. voilà  ,wonderful castle indeed.

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There you go folks a wonderful and beautiful Villandry castle!! All about 3 hrs from our home which can be done in a day!! We got the hang of it and will be back for more castles which we love in natural setting with great food and wines of my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post as I did telling you about it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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4 Comments to “Château de Villandry, the castle!!”

  1. I don’t remember visiting the interior of the castle, but I went several times for the gardens. Ideally you should go in the morning quite early, before the crowds, and then come back at the end of the day when the sun is different. The entrance tickets don’t really allow for this, but having asked I was kindly allowed to.

    Liked by 1 person

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