Chazeron Castle

Chazeron Castle, locally known as Château de Chazeron, lies north of the village of Vensat, in the Puy-de-Dôme department in France.

The site of Chazeron Castle was probably first occupied by a Gallic oppidum, thought to date back to the 4th century BC. It is not known when exactly the castle was founded. As there was a Guillaume of Chazeron mentioned to have been present at the siege of Tripoli around 1103 during the First Crusade, it is assumed that it dates back to at least the 11th century. That first castle was probably just a wooden keep with a oval shaped palisaded enclosure.

The Lords of Chazeron accompanied King Louis II of France on the Third Crusade and for this they were rewarded with the rights of high justice. To show off their newly gained prestige Chazeron was rebuilt in stone from 1195 on.

By the 2nd half of the 14th century the Lords of Chazeron had grown in prestige and power. Oudart V of Chazeron was chamberlain of not only Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, but also of Charles V and Charles VI of France. He had the simple Chazeron Castle rebuilt into a formidable fortress and palace with 17 towers and 3 consecutive enclosures. Works started in the 1380's and lasted for several decades.

In the 17th century Chazeron was the home of François de Monestay, Marquis of Chazeron and a military leader in the forces of Louis XIV of France who had distinguished himself often. Therefore Louis XIV was planning to come to Chazeron Castle to personally award him with a rank in the Order of the Holy Spirit. To have a home worthy of receiving the Sun King, De Monestay then had his old medieval castle rigorously rebuilt by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. A hamlet which had grown outside the castle's walls was moved and all the enclosures were destroyed to be replaced by 2 classic style wings. Also the keep was demolished to make way for a double stairway surmounted by an arched gallery. It is the result of that rebuilding campaign that we see today.

Having passed through the French Revolution largely unscathed Chazeron Castle was sold in 1909 by a member of the Monestay family. Its new owner, a mr. Marnier, let the castle fall into dilapidation and when he left took most of its furniture and decorations. The next owner, a mr. Léouzon-le-Duc, was notorious anti-clerical and dismantled and sold everything that symbolized religion. After a short while he then sold it to a mr. Coulon and mr. Gras.

Then the castle's decay started in earnest; they started to strip the castle of anything they could make a profit on; wood paneling, fireplaces, balustrades, wrought iron gates. They were only halted by the outbreak of WW II. In 1942 Chazeron was turned into a political prison for the defendants in the Riom Trial. After the war, however, the castle was returned to them. When they again started to dismantle everything and cutting down the trees in the castle's park, ignoring the fact that it had become a protected monument, they were arrested and dispossessed. After that guards were stationed in the castle but they also took and sold everything that was left.

In 1965 the ruined castle was finally acquired at a public sale from the state by 2 architects. They restored Chazeron to its present state and now use it partly as a residence and to house art exhibitions. 

At present Chazeron Castle can be visited for a fee. A very nice castle with a curious history.


Gallery

Chazeron Castle

Chazeron Castle, locally known as Château de Chazeron, lies north of the village of Vensat, in the Puy-de-Dôme department in France.

The site of Chazeron Castle was probably first occupied by a Gallic oppidum, thought to date back to the 4th century BC. It is not known when exactly the castle was founded. As there was a Guillaume of Chazeron mentioned to have been present at the siege of Tripoli around 1103 during the First Crusade, it is assumed that it dates back to at least the 11th century. That first castle was probably just a wooden keep with a oval shaped palisaded enclosure.

The Lords of Chazeron accompanied King Louis II of France on the Third Crusade and for this they were rewarded with the rights of high justice. To show off their newly gained prestige Chazeron was rebuilt in stone from 1195 on.

By the 2nd half of the 14th century the Lords of Chazeron had grown in prestige and power. Oudart V of Chazeron was chamberlain of not only Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, but also of Charles V and Charles VI of France. He had the simple Chazeron Castle rebuilt into a formidable fortress and palace with 17 towers and 3 consecutive enclosures. Works started in the 1380's and lasted for several decades.

In the 17th century Chazeron was the home of François de Monestay, Marquis of Chazeron and a military leader in the forces of Louis XIV of France who had distinguished himself often. Therefore Louis XIV was planning to come to Chazeron Castle to personally award him with a rank in the Order of the Holy Spirit. To have a home worthy of receiving the Sun King, De Monestay then had his old medieval castle rigorously rebuilt by the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. A hamlet which had grown outside the castle's walls was moved and all the enclosures were destroyed to be replaced by 2 classic style wings. Also the keep was demolished to make way for a double stairway surmounted by an arched gallery. It is the result of that rebuilding campaign that we see today.

Having passed through the French Revolution largely unscathed Chazeron Castle was sold in 1909 by a member of the Monestay family. Its new owner, a mr. Marnier, let the castle fall into dilapidation and when he left took most of its furniture and decorations. The next owner, a mr. Léouzon-le-Duc, was notorious anti-clerical and dismantled and sold everything that symbolized religion. After a short while he then sold it to a mr. Coulon and mr. Gras.

Then the castle's decay started in earnest; they started to strip the castle of anything they could make a profit on; wood paneling, fireplaces, balustrades, wrought iron gates. They were only halted by the outbreak of WW II. In 1942 Chazeron was turned into a political prison for the defendants in the Riom Trial. After the war, however, the castle was returned to them. When they again started to dismantle everything and cutting down the trees in the castle's park, ignoring the fact that it had become a protected monument, they were arrested and dispossessed. After that guards were stationed in the castle but they also took and sold everything that was left.

In 1965 the ruined castle was finally acquired at a public sale from the state by 2 architects. They restored Chazeron to its present state and now use it partly as a residence and to house art exhibitions. 

At present Chazeron Castle can be visited for a fee. A very nice castle with a curious history.


Gallery