Chateau de Valencay

As history tells us, the first French real feudal castle was built by seignior Gautier de Valencay in the 13th century. After that it belonged to the family of Chalon-Tonnerre, what was connected with the marriage contract, had been rebuilt and expanded with new facilities. Such families as d’Etamp, Chaumont de la Miller and Legendre were also owners of this old castle and all of them had tried to bring something of themselves into the architecture of the chateau.

We can not say that all these French families didn’t go down in history of the country someway, but the greatest glory the Castle of Valencay (Chateau de Valencay) got thanks to the legendary French Foreign Minister of the three regimes (including the era of Emperor Napoleon) Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord – a man who became one of the best European diplomats of all times. Until now the name of Tayleran is often associated with such important concepts of politics as agility, cunning and unscrupulousness.

So, the Chateau de Valencay was bought (and a part of the cost was paid personally by Napoleon Bonaparte) and became the property of Charles Talleyrand in 1802. According to plans of the Emperor, the castle had to become the residence of his head minister, where he could receive diplomats and noble representatives of other states at the highest level. How important the decision was from the state’s point of view you can imagine, considering the price of the castle. Napoleon and Talleyrand paid for the estate more than one and a half million francs.

In those days the castle already had more than one hundred separate rooms, twenty-five manorial apartments, a lot of service rooms and buildings. Moreover, the estate included a park, covering an area of a hundred and fifty acres; vineyards, forests, meadows and farms. And all this rich French manor was located at 19 thousand hectares. After completing of the castle’s beautification, Talleyrand made it his residence for a quarter of the century; the good and the great achieved the honor to be invited here.

It is true that Talleyrand was not always a full owner of the Castle of Valencay. Thus, during the war against Spain Napoleon made captive Pyrenean princes (with their retinues) the “co-habitants” of the Minister for long six years. Also the Emperor was concerned about the comfort of his royal captives. So, many entertainments were created in the castle, including a theater, which was placed in the rooms next to the conservatory and could accommodate up to 150 spectators. And the best French theatre companies of the time performed on its stage.

When the Congress of Vienna finished existence of the Empire the princes went home and Talleyrand had returned to his castle together with Dorothea – his nephew’s wife – he became very attached to her.

Being on the go, Talleyrand spent a lot of time at his estate, receiving friends from different countries. After death of the minister his body was buried in Valencay – it was the will of Charles Talleyrand. Later the castle belonged to his heirs – relatives on the brother’s side; the minister did not have own children.

Since 1979 Chateau de Valencay is in the hands of the Association of Historic Castles of France. Today the castle has become a popular tourist attraction. A museum of vintage cars was found here to attract tourists. Also it got lots of exotic birds and animals. Believe it or not, but Valencay is one of the most beautiful French castles in the Loire Valley.

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