The Chateau d’Ancy-le-Franc was built in the Renaissance style in the middle of 123 acres of parkland in Yonne, the heart of Burgundy.
It is one of the first French castles to have been built to a design that was set out on paper. Before then, castles tended to be designed as they went along. It was created by Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio who came to France to work on the Chateaux of Fontainebleau and the Louvre, summoned by King Francis I.
The Chateau was once owned by Antoine III de Clermont, husband of Diane de Poitier’s sister. There have been claims that the ghost of the famous mistress of Henri II who had an apartment here, roams the rooms. The castle changed hands several times and fell into neglect before being bought by a Paris real estate company in 1999. Since then, they’ve undertaken a long and very expensive restoration of the chateau.
Inside the chateau, beautifully renovated and furnished rooms and the once glorious 16th century murals painted by the great masters of yesteryear are coming back to life as experts restore the colours. In the chapel which took 8 years to paint, the ancient walls are being revealed for the first time in centuries.
In fact it is home to the biggest collection of Renaissance murals in France.
What to see and do at the Chateau d’Ancy
There are more than a dozen beautifully decorated rooms in the chateau with an astonishing amount of original features. One of the most unusual is the “Flower Room”. With stunning 17th century wall decorations it depicts flowers which at the time were quite a novelty. The room was decorated for a young bride, it’s soft and romantic and, showing flowers that at the time would have been enormously expensive, in those days a tulip was a collector’s item costing the equivalent of €15,000, it was a declaration of love. You can’t help wondering, was the bride impressed?!
The courtyard is extravagantly large and sumptuously decorated. The Louvois Lounge is named in honour of one time owner the Marquis de Louvois, Louis XIV’s Minister of War. He bought it after staying here with Louis XIV who spent a night here, accompanied by 10,000 soldiers, apparently almost bankrupting the Clermont family owners. Louvois commissioned Le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s gardener at Versailles to design the gardens.
Wine fairs and concerts are held in the beautiful grounds and the gardens are the perfect place to wander and enjoy the orangery, 18th century folly and gorgeous planting.