Château de Bouges, France

The Château de Bouges is an 18th-century mansion in the town of Bouges-le-Château, in the Indre département of France, in the Loire Valley. It is classified as a monument historique and the gardens are listed by the Ministry of Culture as among the Notable Gardens of France. The château and gardens are open to the public.

The château has a park of eighty hectares, which include a landscape garden, an arboretum, a floral garden created in 1920, large greenhouses, and a formal French garden. It also includes large stables which were later used as garages by the last owners.

One cannot leave Bouges without wandering around the 80 ha park, planted with numerous species of trees, with some rare essence (tulipier, American red oak tree, liquidambar). Inside the main buildings you will also find an important collection related to hunting and horses.

This place with a still inhabited appearance and the beauty of the surroundings are constitutive of the charm of this castle. Whatever the season you will be welcomed in the castle with garden flowers freshly arranged.

History:
Bouges was originally a rural manor house with a fortified château. In 1759, Claude Charles François Leblanc de Marnaval, Louis XV’s general tax collector, purchased the land and soon replaced the old château with an elegant “Italian style” construction.

The new, fashionable building was a demonstration of the ambition of its rich ironmaster, who had managed to make his name in the Parisian finance world and had recently gained a noble title (through marriage). His lifestyle was the subject of both astonishment and jealousy. Some 12 years later, he found himself bankrupt and his château was repossessed and sold.

During the 19th century, the site passed through a number of owners, including the Prince of Talleyrand.

The majority of the transformation work on the château was conducted by Henry Viguier, the director of a large Parisian store, and his wife Renée, from a rich family of drapers. They revived the property by installing stunning pieces of furniture, in harmony with the surroundings. They also modernised the château by introducing electricity, heating and running water.

The purchase of Bouges gave Henry Viguier a chance to devote himself to his love of equestrianism, and he used his horses for every aspect of his daily activities (hunting, horse-riding, picnics, travel and purchasing supplies). He owned a stable of racehorses, and was particularly fond of attractive horse-drawn carriages. The stables, saddleries and carriage hall provide a particularly good representation of this passion.

Renée Viguier, meanwhile, was passionate about flowers, and this recurring motif can be seen throughout the interior décor of the château. The couple transformed the existing vegetable garden into a flower garden (the “jardin bouquetier”), and exotic plants were installed in the large greenhouse. They also restored the plants and landscapes in the English and French formal gardens created by the Duchênes under the previous ownership.

In 1967, with no descendants, the couple left the estate and its collection to the Caisse nationale des monuments historiques et des sites (now the Centre des Monuments Nationaux). Henry Viguier’s express wish was that the estate should be open to the public, and that the income generated should be used to maintain and restore the property.

Architecture
The Château de Bouges was attributed without proof to Ange-Jacques Gabriel on the basis of an approximate similarity with the Petit Trianon of Versailles built by the famous architect between 1762 and 1768 at exactly the same time, which is enough to make this highly unlikely attribution. It is now challenged by all authors.

The name “Gabriel” engraved on one of the pediments is probably only a graffiti due to one of the workers on the site, like that of “Fayeti” who overcomes it. The parish registers mention the burial in November 1767 of a certain Gabriel, apprentice of Louis Thonet, mason working at the castle, who is perhaps the one who engraved his name on the castle. Also mentioned in 1768 were Claude Vidard, carpenter, and François Le Neuf, “master carpenter at the château”. In 1770, François Le Neuf, the locksmith Antoine Favel and Jean Bardon attended the burial of the brother of the latter, described as “painter and gilder of the city of Bourges”.

The deliberations of the trustee quote the claims of Richard Colasse, master roofer in Paris, and Mathieu La Chaussée, master carpenter in Paris, “for the cover of a new dome”, made in 1778 according to the indications of Sieur Vittard, architect. We do not know anything about it and we can not attribute to it with certainty the whole project of Bouges, in which we also found similarities with the hotel Bertrand in Châteauroux, contemporary work of the architect engineer Martin Bouchet.

Exteriors
If Bouges is undeniably a very neat construction, it does not present the architectural subtleties of the Petit Trianon. On the other hand, its pavilion organization evokes certain Parisian hotels like the hotel Peyrenc de Moras and also the castle of Marly. In the second half of the eighteenth century, there are obvious similarities with the castle of Canon (Calvados), refitted in 1770 for Jean-Baptiste Elie de Beaumont.

The castle is a 28 x 21 meter rectangular massed building with nine bays on the main façades and five bays on the side façades. The main façades open one on the main courtyard and the other on the big perspective of the green carpet. Under a triangular pediment, the three central bays stand out in slight protrusion, forming a false fore-body, on a continuous base of refends answering the angles treated in bosses with slits. On the ground floor, this false front is pierced by three semicircular windows, including the entrance door which is accessed by a few steps of steps, and on the floor of three rectangular bays joined by a balcony supported by four consoles.

The median axis is also marked by the use of a triangular pediment, the use of continuous roofs and the use of a semicircular central bay on the ground floor, and rectangular on the first floor, framed by pierced or simulated bull’s eye. Each cross of the side façades is highlighted by a framing of flower beds that animates the walls of smooth stone.

The house is built in stone Villentrois. The separation between the two levels is marked by a simple strip and a prominent cornice, which make imperceptible the level between the ground floor and the first floor and the level of service rooms located on the second floor. The sculpture is limited to the pediments and consoles of the balconies, and to the systematic use of balusters to encircle the flowerbeds and to conceal the roof terrace that was crowned with a slate dome in the eighteenth century.

Interiors
Château de Bouges stands out thanks to the ingeniousness of its three-deep interior organization, which provides maximum opening to the outside by releasing the center of the building, occupied on the ground floor by a large vestibule connecting the hall of honor at the games fair. The other reception rooms are arranged on the ground floor with the necessary clearances and service rooms, the grand staircase being rejected on the side in the thickness of the vestibule. Upstairs, the right end of the staircase leads to a central void around which develop the master apartments and guest rooms, five in number. The large windows are equipped with interior shutters and are skilfully divided to give day to mezzanine. The kitchens, laundry, cellars and storage are in the basement.

The creation, most probably at the end of the nineteenth century only, of a skylight illuminated by a skylight above the central void, introduced a very original second luminous axis by drawing an interesting part from the original layout.

Park
The estate comprises on 80 hectares a landscaped park, an arboretum, a garden bouquetier created in 1920, large greenhouses and French gardens of one hectare redrawn in the last century by the Duchêne father and son. The park also offers boxwood borders and cone-cut yews, all surrounded by a double line of lime trees. The perspective of the basin leads to the water buffet of the nymphaeum, in the center of the lawn rises a carved group of white marble representing Hercules. The garden is composed of two main axes, at the intersection of which is a circular basin. The large greenhouse is home to some rare or exotic plant species.

The English-style park covers 80 hectares of liquidambar trees, tulip trees, beeches, berberis, sumacs … The park is labeled Logo displaying two half silhouettes of trees Remarkable garden.

Sumptuous stables installed in the common, home to the horse-drawn carriages used by its last owners.

Protection
Château de Bouges has been classified as a historic monument since September 7, 2001. This concerns the château, its outbuildings, its gardens, its park, as well as the buildings and the fence walls and the driveway. ‘arrival. This decree canceled the previous protection measures: the decree of classification as historical monuments of December 28, 1961 and the orders of inscription under the historic monuments of October 21, 1944 and March 3, 1997.

Filmography
The castle and its park served as a setting for certain scenes from Yves Angelo’s film Le Colonel Chabert (1994) with Gérard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant.

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