On a grey autumnal afternoon, we visited the 17th century moated Château de Beaumesnil, in the village of Beaumesnil, Normandy. The blurb in our guidebook described the château as Normandy’s answer to Versailles.
From a distance, the Château de Beaumesnil looked impressive, but considerably smaller than Versailles. On reflection, the guidebook comparison was probably because of the 60 hectare grounds rather than the château. La Quintinie was the landscaper, but little remains of his original designs. It was so damp on the day of our visit that we didn’t spend long outside. However, the sweeping views from the windows of the chateau gave us a good idea of the garden’s spectacular perspectives with long avenues and a substantial lake.
I learnt the lawn area is known as a parterre and the formal flower beds are the Jardin des Quatre Saisons (the Four Seasons Garden).
The builder, John Gallard, completed the château in 1641 during the reign of Louis XIII on the site of a medieval castle. Now, the château is a French historic monument. Its last owner was German bookbinder, Hans Furstenburg, who purchased the property in 1938. On his death, in 1982, the property passed to the Furstenburg Beaumesnil Foundation.
Sadly, up close, the château shows signs of decay. However, the rooms open to the public are light and inviting and furnished with beautiful classic French antiques. In the basement, there is an interesting display of bookbinding tools reflecting the interest of its last owner, Hans Furstenburg.
To find out more about the Château de Beaumesnil, or to check opening times and learn about other events, here is a link to the official website – Château de Beaumesnil