Patriotism, scandal and heritage business savvy.
|Early 20C cast iron range in the kitchen.|
I'll begin the tour with Marguerite Wilson Pelouze, a wealthy and cultured Franco-Scot who acquired the Chateau in 1864. She succeeded in her aim of saving the Chateau, but the personal cost was high. By 1888 she was broke and her family embroiled in multiple scandals. Luckily for us, in 1913, the Menier family acquired the Chateau, and they still own it today. Learn about their innovative approach to owning the chateau, converting it to a hospital during World War I, and how they were early adopters of the modern idea of opening privately owned heritage sites to the public. Find out how they fund the necessary conservation work, what your entry fee covers and how important an attraction like this is in a small community.
|The Chateau reflected in the Cher River.|
This period of history is more or less ignored by guides, but it is only just beyond living memory, and very relatable for modern visitors. I love to share these intimate details of the lives of people who served France in the not so distant past and honor those who have been forgotten.
|Servants dining room.|
*meet at the Sphinxes halfway down the driveway in front of the chateau.
*view the chateau from the terrace.
*visit the interior ground floor (entrance hall, guardroom, chapel and long gallery).
*visit the kitchens.
*visit the hospital (in the stables).
*you will then have the opportunity to explore the chateau and grounds further at your own pace.
|The owners of the Chateau are animal lovers and all staff get to help out with the resident animals.|
This tour as a whole or partially, can be customized to fit your preferences - please inquire! For example, lunch at a nearby restaurant could be included, or a full guided tour of the chateau, introducing you to many other fascinating historical characters and past owners (most of them women). The art and furniture collection in the chateau is outstanding, and there are many secrets which only a guide can reveal.
|The Chateau employs two fulltime florists who provide the flower arrangements.|
Duration: 1 hour 30 min.
|Early 20C cast iron range in the basement kitchens, installed for the hospital.|
If the chateau interior is very crowded the tour may take place in a different sequence to try and avoid the crowds.
|Mid-20C stained glass in the chapel, installed after the original glass was destroyed in WWII.|
This is a walking tour. The paths are tamped clay and gravel, the ground floor of the chateau and stables are accessible. The kitchens are only accessible via a rather steep staircase, often crowded.
|A sign for Chocolat Menier.|
Price: €100 for groups of up to 4 people. Admission tickets are not included.
|View of the front of the chateau.|
Booking: email firstname.lastname@example.org at least one day before you wish to take the tour. Tours can be conducted on any day of the week, throughout the year, at a time to suit you.
|Furniture in the kitchens up on concrete blocks during a period of high flood risk.|
About the Guide: I am Susan Walter. I specialise in story telling, the weaving together of this fact and that, this character and their relationship with another. It is a technique which brings alive the history of what is sometimes just stones to look at, but those stones may lead to something wonderfully evocative and provide a better understanding of the past. Much of the history of the Loire Valley is about important characters which you will have heard of, but there is a great deal of hidden history too -- characters who have been forgotten in modern times, motivations for deeds which seem inexplicable can become clear, how different life was then, but also how similar. If you want to know who would graffiti a royal chapel and why, and why it isn't who most guides will tell you it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to know about the history of bathing and personal hygiene, and how that isn't quite what you think it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to meet fascinating characters from history who really made a difference, often women, then take a tour with me.
|The Chateau spans the River Cher.|
English speaking, born and raised in Australia, I lived for 12 years in England, where I worked for the National Trust in their Historic Buildings Conservation Department, and now in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Loire Valley for more than a decade. I am an active heritage and nature conservation professional with experience of working with conservators and curators to care for historic objects and buildings, and with ecologists caring for our natural environment. Deeply embedded in the local scene I speak quite good French and enjoy life in a small village near some fabulous chateaux and lovely countryside. I'm always happy to talk about life in France and am friends with many wine makers and local food producers.