A château (plural châteaux; French pronunciation: [ʃɑto]
in both cases) is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor
or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without
fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in
3 French châteaux
3.1 Loire Valley
Château de Chenonceau
4 See also
6 External links
The word "chateau" is a French word that has entered the English
language, where its meaning is more specific than it is in French. The
French word "chateau" denotes buildings as diverse as a medieval
fortress, a Renaissance palace and a 19th-century country house. Care
should therefore be taken when translating the French word château
into English, noting the nature of the building in question. Most
French châteaux are "palaces" or "country houses" and not "castles",
and for these the English word "chateau" is appropriate. Sometimes the
word "palace" is more appropriate. To give an outstanding example, the
Château de Versailles is so called because it was located in the
countryside when it was built, but it does not bear any resemblance to
a castle, so it is usually known in English as the
Versailles. In French where clarification is needed, the term château
fort is used to describe a castle, such as
Château fort de
The urban counterpart of château is palais, which in French is
applied only to grand houses in a city. This usage is again different
from that of the term "palace" in English, where there is no
requirement that a palace must be in a city, but the word is rarely
used for buildings other than the grandest royal residences. The
expression hôtel particulier is used for an urban "private house" of
a grand sort.
A château is a “power house”, as Sir
John Summerson dubbed the
British and Irish “stately homes” that are the British Isles'
architectural counterparts to French châteaux. It is the personal
(and usually hereditary) badge of a family that, with some official
rank, locally represents the royal authority; thus, the word château
often refers to the dwelling of a member of either the French royalty
or the nobility, but some fine châteaux, such as Vaux-le-Vicomte,
were built by the essentially high-bourgeois — people but recently
ennobled: tax-farmers and ministers of Louis XIII and his royal
successors. However, the quality of the residences could vary
considerably, from royal châteaux owned by royalty and the wealthy
elite near larger towns to run-down châteaux vacated by poor
nobility and officials in the countryside isolated and
A château was historically supported by its terres (lands), composing
a demesne that rendered the society of the château largely
self-sufficient, in the manner of the historic Roman and Early
Medieval villa system, (cf. manorialism, hacienda). The open villas of
Rome in the times of Pliny the Elder, Maecenas, and Emperor Tiberius
began to be walled-in, and then fortified in the 3rd century AD, thus
evolving to castellar “châteaux”. In modern usage, a château
retains some enclosures that are distant descendants of these
fortifying outworks: a fenced, gated, closeable forecourt, perhaps a
gatehouse or a keeper's lodge, and supporting outbuildings (stables,
kitchens, breweries, bakeries, manservant quarters in the
garçonnière). Besides the cour d’honneur (court of honour)
entrance, the château might have an inner cour (“court”), and
inside, in the private residence, the château faces a simply and
discreetly enclosed park.
In the city of Paris, the
Louvre (fortified) and the Luxembourg
(originally suburban) represented the original château but lost their
château etymology, becoming “palaces” when the City enclosed
them. In the U.S., the word château took root selectively, in the
Gilded Age resort town of Newport, Rhode Island, the châteaux were
called “cottages”, but, north of Wilmington, Delaware, in the
rich, rural “
Château Country” centred upon the powerful Du Pont
family, château is used with its original definition. In Canada,
especially in English, château usually denotes a hotel, not a house,
and applies only to the largest, most elaborate railway hotels built
in the Canadian Railroad golden age, such as the
Château Lake Louise,
in Lake Louise, Alberta, the
Château Laurier, in Ottawa, the Château
Montebello, in Montebello, Quebec, and the most famous Château
Frontenac, in Quebec City. Moreover, in other French-speaking
European regions, such as
Wallonia (Belgium), the word
used with the same definition. In Belgium, a strong French
architectural influence is evident in the seventeenth-century Château
des Comtes de Marchin and the eighteenth-century
Château de Seneffe.
Château de Chambord
View of Versailles from the garden
Châteaux of the Loire Valley
Loire Valley (Vallée de la Loire) is home to more than 300
châteaux. They were built between the 10th and 20th centuries,
firstly by the French kings followed soon thereafter by the nobility;
hence, the Valley is termed "The Valley of the Kings". Alternatively,
due to its moderate climate, wine growing soils and rich agricultural
Loire Valley is referred to as "The Garden of France". The
châteaux range from the very large (often now in public hands) to
more 'human-scale' châteaux such as the
Château de Beaulieu in
Saumur or the medieval
Château du Rivau
Château du Rivau close to
Chinon which were
built of the local tuffeau stone.
The Chateau de Montsoreau is the only chateau de la Loire built in the
Vaux-le-Vicomte is simililary a baroque French
château located in Maincy, near Melun, 55 km southeast of Paris
Seine-et-Marne département of France. It was built from 1658
to 1661 for Nicolas Fouquet, Marquis de Belle-Isle
(Belle-Île-en-Mer), Viscount of
Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of
finances of Louis XIV.
Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau is a French château spanning the River
Cher, near the small village of
Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire
department of the
Loire Valley in France. It is one of the best-known
châteaux of the Loire valley. The estate of Chenonceau is first
mentioned in writing in the 11th century. The current château was
built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was later
extended to span the river. The bridge over the river was built from
1556 to 1559 to designs by the French Renaissance architect Philibert
de l'Orme, and the gallery on the bridge, built from 1570–1576 to
designs by Jean Bullant.
Built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, 1675–1683 for the duc de Chevreuse,
Colbert's son-in-law, is a
French Baroque château of manageable size.
Protected behind fine wrought iron double gates, the main block and
its outbuildings (corps de logis), linked by balustrades, are ranged
symmetrically around a dry paved and gravelled cour d'honneur. Behind,
the central axis is extended between the former parterres, now mown
hay. The park with formally shaped water was laid out by André Le
Palace of Versailles, or in French
Château de Versailles, is a
royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-
France region of France.
When the château was built, Versailles was a country village; today,
however, it is a wealthy suburb of Paris, some 20 kilometres (12
miles) southwest of the French capital. The court of Versailles was
the centre of political power in
France from 1682, when Louis XIV
moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the
capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution.
Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol
of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.
There are many estates with true châteaux on them in Bordeaux, but it
is customary for any wine-producing estate, no matter how humble, to
prefix its name with "Château". If there were any trace of doubt that
the Roman villas of
Aquitaine evolved into fortified self-contained
châteaux, the wine-producing châteaux would dispel it. On the other
hand, there are many striking châteaux in the
Bordeaux region still
depicting this Roman villa style of architecture, an example of this
Château Lagorce in Haux.
List of castles in France
List of châteaux in Languedoc-Roussillon
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Look up château in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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"Château". Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). 1911.