05 February 2008

Things I like about summer, XII

Outdoor plays at the château de Valençay

A new governess arriving at the château, if I remember correctly...

Valençay is a town about 20 miles east of Saint-Aignan. It has a château, of course. Talleyrand, Napoleon's powerful minister of foreign affairs, lived there. His chef was the equally famous Antonin Carême, and you can visit the kitchens he cooked in and the dining room where there is an emormous table for dozens of guests.

Talleyrand had a club foot so he walked with a cane.
(Or at least the actor does.)

On nice summer afternoons, a troop of actors performs scenes from the history of the château out in the courtyard. They wear microphones (and beautiful costumes, as you can see) so that visitors can hear the dialog as well as see the play. It's fun and informative.

Cherubs playing in a fountain

Valençay was a Renaissance (built around 1540) château that was given a whole new wing in the 1600s and remodeled in the 1700s, so the building shows many styles. In fact, there had been a château on the site since the 1100s. The newer wing is furnished in as it was in the 1700s and 1800s.

The new wing is on the left and the old one is on the right.

There is also a beautiful formal garden and a big park where kangaroos, exotic birds, and deer and kept in large pens. Valençay makes a nice place to spend a warm afternoon.

This girl spends all her afternoons — and mornings,
for that matter — in the gardens at Valençay.


  1. Looks like a great place to visit and probably less visited than others in the area. I assume it is a good place to go to escape the crowds. It sure is beautiful.

  2. Valency looks somptuous but, knowing Talleyrand-Périgord, I would not have wanted to be the châtelaine. Not even a guest...

    Fun to visit avec la distance des années!

  3. There is also a very good goat cheese in Valençay. Is there any kind of wine?

  4. Dan, I've been to Valençay several times over the past 5 years and I've never seen it very crowded. It isn't really in the Loire Valley, but in the Berry region.

    Claudia, Napoléon supposedly described Talleyrand as « de la merde dans un bas de soie. »

    CHM, the Valençay goat cheese is excellent. It's the pyramid-shaped one (as you know). There is a Valençay wine appellation, but it is VDQS and not AOC. Valençays can be red (Gamay) or white (Sauvignon). Some bottles are very good.


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