The Chateau d’Arlay in the Jura department, Franche-Comté is close to the border with Burgundy and well worth a detour for its authentic beauty, gorgeous gardens and fabulous wine.
Chateau d’Arlay was built in 1774 on the site of a fort which dates back to 1150 and was home to the Countess Laraguais, heiress to the Princes’ of Orange’s holdings in the region and niece of Louis XV. During the French Revolution the castle remained unharmed but the countess lost her head and many of the chateau’s possessions were taken. Later, Napoleon ordered reparations to families who had lost belongings and the castle is full of furniture from the 1800s where the family replaced missing items. There’s an eclectic collection here including some fabulous giraffe memorabilia commemorating the arrival of Zarafa the giraffe in France in 1827. She was a gift from the Sultan of Egypt to Charles X of France and walked with her keepers from Marseille to Paris where she lived in the Jardin des Plantes – it caused a sensation in the day.
What to see at the Chateau d’Arlay
It’s a fascinating place to visit and owners and custodians of the castle, Alain and Anne de Laguiche, descendants of Countess Laraguais, have embarked on a programme of restoration that will take many more years and safeguard the chateau for future generations. They also make wine, and there’s a great shop where you can do a wine tasting and buy wine from the estate which is matured in the castle cellars. The vineyards were established hundreds of years ago by the Princes of Orange and have had a dramatic history, coveted by several nations. At one point they belonged to England, then Spain and then finally France.
The castle is lovely but it’s the gardens that make it a real knock out visit with exquisite views over the countryside and 8 hectares of walled park, it’s the perfect place for a breath of fresh air.
You’ll need around 3 hours to take a tour, visit the grounds and do a wine tasting.
Find the Chateau d’Arlay at Arlay, Jura, Franche Comte, about an hour’s drive from Chalon-sur-Saone. Website: www.arlay.com
Discover loads more to do and lots of chateaux to fall in love with at: en.bourgognefranchecomte.com