Monday, August 11, 2014

Chateau de Breteuil

I apologize for the length of this post, I have way too many pictures for one post, but I just couldn't decide which ones were my favorite.  
This Sunday we were trying to decide what to do.  Normally Sundays are reserved for church, but during August all of the children's church and nursery workers get a greatly deserved break.  I know we could take our kids into the service with us, and we will before the month is over, but it is mostly a lesson in frustration for us all.  
I happened to see this article on Facebook, by Fodor's, about the 11 must see Chateaux near Paris that aren't Versailles.  We had been to 4 of the 11 already, so I looked into the remaining 7 and found a winner.  
We all hopped in the car and headed out southwest of Paris to find a new adventure.  There were quite a few cyclists out during our drive.

About 40 minutes later and we were there.  I love my life!

They definitely knew a thing or two about creating drama.

45 Euros later and we were inside.  The prices can be a little hard to swallow sometimes, but we know we are only here for a short time.

We made it just in time for the first tour.  You are only allowed to visit the house with a tour guide.  The first tour on Sundays starts at 11:30.  I had read several reviews about tour guides that spoke English so we were hopeful.  We were the only English speaking family there. Thankfully one of the guides spoke some English so she did her presentation in French and I listened and understood as much as I could and then she would fill in a few details for Jon in English and I would see if my comprehension was as good as I thought.  I loved this extra wide chair. 

The history of this chateau is quite amazing.  It was built between 1604 and 1610 and it has been in the same family since then.  Our guide told us that during the French Revolution the owner of the home was only 8 years old so he escaped suspicion and the house was spared.  It was so special to get to see one of these chateau that did not have such a tragic past and still had most of its original furnishings.

These tours are so hard for Garrett, especially when he didn't understand anything, but there were a few surprises along the way for him.

The Grevin Museum has over 20 wax figures in place at the chateau.  They are kind of creepy, but they do help to make history more fun.  This picture is of Louis XVIII who was so fat he had to have special chairs made.  You can see a wheel peeking out on the bottom right hand corner.  This was the exact chair the king sat in, he put it in his will that the chair was to go to the house of Breteuil as they were advisors of the king.  There are many gifts through out the house from the royal family.  One of the Breteuil family was the ambassador to Austria around the time of Marie Antoinette and there are several generous gifts from Austria including a full china service.

One of the libraries with books that have belonged to the family for generations.

One of the Breteuil men collected butterflies.

I love seeing real life at chateaux and this bathroom was a great example.

It is so fun to see all of these items that I have fun collecting now being used for their original purpose.

The portraits of family members through out the house were so much fun to see.

The father of the current Breteuil was a composer and traveled all over the world.

This is a replica of the Queen's necklace that was at the center of a controversy.

This globe was created before the edges of the map had all been filled in.  If you look closely at it you can see where new borders were filled in.

The history of the home does not concentrate on the men alone, this is Gabrielle Emilie de Breteuil and she was a scientist in the 18th century.  Our guide said she was the leading female scientist of her day.  She translated works by Isaac Newton, she was very interested in Astronomy and she was very close with Voltaire, very close.  They were in love for 15 years.

This bust of Voltaire was on her desk.

This was Gabrielle's sitting room, filled with books by Voltaire and other great writers including an encyclopedia by Diderot.

Here are more the wax figures of Puss in Boots.  The house has a connection to the author of Puss in Boots, Charles Perrault.  

The chairs in this room were made for the Breteuil family and have been in the house since 1771.  They were removed for the first time recently for refurbishment.

Another example of real life.

Garrett's favorite part, weapons.  You can see his little hand pretending to reach up and take one down.  

B for Bennett!

This was a tiny little room, but I loved all of the detail; the ceiling, the chandelier, the wood carving and the dishes.  I love the thought they put into the littlest details.

The family entertained the King of England in this room in 1805.  I took this picture because I love the upholstery job on the chairs.

The chapel was refurbished in 1860.

These stained glass windows were brought from the cathedral in Chartres.

Again, details in a small space.  This is the stairway to the kitchen.  They had plates and battle field drawings, something for everyone.

In the kitchen area, this was where the servants ate.

These were the kitchens.  One of the ladies of the house was an American and she is credited with modernizing things down here.   Look at all those copper pots.  

This was another set on another wall.

It is hard to see, but those are waffle irons.

I love these old enamel pitchers and here they are used through out the house as plain old water buckets.  

More dishes, I was having so much fun.

After the tour we headed outside to the creperie for lunch.  It was yummy, but I wish we had just packed a lunch instead.

The grounds of this house are as fun to explore as the house and that is saying something.

The view of the back of the house.

That is a goose the boy is wrestling that is spraying the water.  

You had to be careful passing that fountain, the boys were trying to get wet.  I on the other hand was trying to avoid the water and got doused when the wind shifted.  

There were so many little paths to explore.

The maze looking bushes to the right were planted in 1900 and have been meticulously groomed.

Near the creperie they had a great playground, reminiscent of Jon and I's childhood playgrounds.  Swings are not common in France so the kids had a ball.

The teeter totter got a lot of attention too.

All this fun was too much for a our littlest man.

There is a maze, Addie won the race to the middle.

They had an automated story of Puss in Boots.  Unfortunately it was all in French.  I did my best to explain the story to the kids, but I don't think I did a very good job.  Time to look the story up and tell the real deal.

I hope you enjoyed this tour through Chateau de Breteuil.  If you are looking for a chateau to visit with children I highly recommend this one.  We have dragged our children to so many chateaux and they are often bored, but not here.  They all had so much fun.  

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered your blog, Amy. Your photos of Chateau de Breteuil bring back so many memories! I was there in November of 1991 on a day trip from Paris, where I was living at the time. That adventure was one of the best during my stay. I remember peacocks wandering the grounds and the outbuildings and elk grazing in the moat. Can't wait to take my kids there some day!