Saint Fargeau Castle

Saint Fargeau Courtyard

Saint Fargeau Castle is situated between the Loire and the Yonne river in the small historic town of Saint Fargeau. It stands out because of the unusual pentagonal shape. Surrounded by a beautifull park and a lovely town it is a place well woth a visit.

The castle was built in the 10th century, like so many palaces it started our as a hunting lodge. In the 13th century the pentagonal shaped Castle was finished.

Saint Fargeau Castle is where Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans, cousin of Louis XIV, went when she was banished from court.

Practical information on visiting the Saint Fargeau Castle you can find here.

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The Grande-Mademoiselle at Saint Fargeau Castle 

Anne-Marie-Louise D'OrleansAnne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans

Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans had betrayed the young Monarch in 1652 because she choose the wrong side during the Fronde conflict. At the court of Versailles she was known as the Grande-Mademoiselle.

She was the cousin of Louis XIV (her father Gaston of Orleans was the younger brother of King Louis XIII).

After the Fronde conflict the Grande Mademoiselle was banished from court by the Queen Regent Anne of Austria and her first Minister Cardinal Mazarin. She would have had sympathy for the opposition of feudal aristocracy against increasing power of the royal government and the towering taxes that were levied by the Crown. Louis XIV was still only 14 years old at the time. The real power of the throne in that period of time was with Cardinal Mazarin.

The grande Mademoiselle lived at Saint-Fargeau Castle for 5 years. In this period she ordered the architect Francois Le Vau to renovate and improve the castle so it would be suitable for her to live in. 

When she was allowed to return to Versailles she still went back to her beloved castle of Saint Fargeau regularly.

The discovery of Jean-Baptiste Lully

Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orleans had a scullery boy and Italian teacher at her service by the name of Jean-Baptiste Lully. She helped him develop his talents and when she returned to the courts of Louis XIV she took him with her. He became the most important composer for the French King. He composed many ballets and other music that pleased the king highly and he was the founder of French Opera. When you visit the gardens of Versailles Palace you will often hear his music playing.

Saint Fargeau by Laurent Pandini - wikimedia

Unfortunately a fire in 1752 and a second one in 1855 ruined almost all of the castle. All royal symbols and coats of arms were removed from the facade of the palace during the French Revolution.

Although it is a small castle there are a few reasons to visit Saint Fargeau Castle.

  • In 1979 the castle was bought by Michel Guyot, who has since then been busy restoring the palace to its former glory. To finance this very expensive task he and his brother Jaques organise the spectacular Live History Show of the Castle of Saint Fargeau. With over 600 actors and the Castle as decor, this show takes you through 10 centuries of history.  Thanks to the revenues of these shows and the help of the local people parts of the castle have been renovated and the work is still in progress. The restored apartments can be visited with a guided tour.
  • The castle opens up areas for you that are usually locked for the public. At Saint Fargeau Castle you can take a tour through the atticks of the castle, which is very special to see. You can also take a peek in the servant rooms that are in the attic. They have restored and decorated these rooms too.
  • Another unique feature is the guestroom that you can rent in the castle. For 200 EUR per night you can stay the night in the renovated rooms.
  • Near the castle you will find another project of Michel Guyot, the Guédelon project. Here a medieval castle is build from the ground up, using only medieval techniques and materials. You can find more information here.

Practical information on visiting the Saint Fargeau Castle you can find here.

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