11 February 2016

Le Château de Carrouges in Normandy

After I mentioned Le Château de Carrouges yesterday, I went back to see if I had taken photos there other than the ones I'd already posted on this blog in years past (2006, 2011 (exteriors), and 2011 (staircase). It turns out that I've been to Carrouges four times, including two times before I started blogging. Carrouges is located on the southern edge of Normandy, between Alençon and Domfront, near Bagnoles-de-l'Orne.


Here are some photos that I took in June 2001, the first time I saw the place. I was with CHM and we were doing a château marathon on a drive from Rouen in Normandy back down to Vouvray in Touraine. Walt was in Vouvray waiting for us, and I had to call him on the phone three or four times during the day to give him and then modify our ETA several times. (ETA means "estimated time of arrival," in case you don't know the expression.)


In fact, the drive took us about 12 hours instead of the four or five hours that Google Maps estimates it to take. That included a two-hour lunch, of course. We admired at least half a dozen châteaux along the way, just driving by some for a quick view but getting out of the car and walking around the grounds at others. Looking at the 16th-century châtelet (the entry tower) above, at Carrouges, you can see why I was reminded of Le Moulin, which I posted about over the past three days.


It is true that Carrouges is much more formal and blocky than Le Moulin, as far as the main buildings are concerned. It is built of brick, and much of it was thrown up about a century later than the Sologne château. These buildings replaced or extended even older ones at Carrouges, I believe. They are in a more classical style, and place seems more open and less vertical than Le Moulin. It's in a beautiful setting, with it moat draining into a pond that is full of croaking frogs at certain times of the year.


Here's a shot that shows the blockiness of the place. As I said, these are photos from June 2001, and I have others from May 2005, when Walt and I visited Carrouges on our way back to Saint-Aignan from the Cotentin area of Normandy (Carteret, Barfleur, Saint-Vaast, etc.), where we had spent a few days driving around. Actually, every time I've been to Carrouges, and despite the fact that it's located in rainy Normandy, the weather has been sunny and gorgeous...

12 comments:

  1. The first shot is terrific, with that big church lurking in the background for added atmosphere. I learned yesterday that there was a huge surge in brick making in the 16thC in Western Europe. I was reminded that this allowed a great domestic change which tied in happily to the rise of the middle class at that time -- chimneys in ordinary domestic dwellings, not just the grandest residences. Then the population exploded (not just as a direct result of having chimneys of course, but because of a cumulative and general increase in the standard of living). By the 18thC demand far outstripped supply for bricks, and the problem wasn't solved until technological changes in the mid-19thC allowed for the manufacture of more, and better quality bricks.

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    1. That's interesting. I think the increase in the standard of living resulted partly from the end of the 100 Years War in the middle of the 15th century. No wonder P. du Moulin was still building a fortified château in 1480.

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    2. The builders of Chateau du Moulin would have been very like those of Fougeres sur Bievre. They built a fortified chateau because that's what you did, it indicated you were aristocratic and there was always conflict. Then it turned out there wasn't any war to speak of, at least on French soil, for several generations. Very quickly these places got modifications to turn them into grand country houses. Luckily for us, because they've never been used defensively, the chateaux built at the end of the 15thC are homogenous, well preserved, fairytale like structures.

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  2. Very interesting info, Susan and Ken :)

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  3. Thank you, Ken, for these photos of Carrouges. Good memories of Gacé, Médavy, Sées and O.

    Where did we have lunch? Was it at Mortrée?

    Another brick medieval chateau is Rambures in Picardy, but very close to Northern Normandy, at the opposite of Carrouges Ken and I went there in 2010. Unfortunately, it was closed that day; we had to be contended with just a glimpse of it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Rambures

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    1. I had some doubt about a verb I used in the post above and just checked to be contended with. It doesn't seem to mean what I meant. What I meant was the French se contenter de which means make do or be content with. I'm sorry about that. You never can master a foreign language!

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  4. I can't remember where we had lunch. I have a mental picture of the restaurant, but I don't know exactly where it was. It was good food.

    Here is my blog post about Rambures.

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  5. The entry tower is the most interesting part, IMHO. Too bad the main house doesn't have the same renaissance lightness with the steep towers, elaborate windws and dormers.

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    1. Hi David,

      If you like steep towers and roofs you should check Ô and Fontaine-Henry, these two in Normandy, and up to a certain point Meillant in the old province of Berry not too far from Bourges.

      Here are links in French so you can exercise. That will be good for you. But if you are lazy, you could check the same links in English (?). LOL

      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_d'%C3%94_%28Orne%29 (No English version)

      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Fontaine-Henry (English version is almost empty)

      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Meillant (English version is almost empty)

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  6. Charles-Henri, thanks very much for these links, Château d'Ô est un bijou d’architecture! I like the smaller scale from the front and the light color of the stone. Looks like the interior is somewhat intact as well. On Fontaine-Henry, I found a little chat with the current owner, in the lovely rooms that still retian their furniture:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7OGLnxWYsA

    They have several English names in their family background.

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  7. I have loved all the photos from this and your last couple of posts. The chateaus are so beautiful and remind me of fairy tale castles from books I read as a child. How I would love to walk the grounds and look at such magnificent buildings! …and to walk inside and maybe climb the stairs to one of those turrets, I can only imagine! My bucket list gets longer and longer!

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