Château d’Useé

CENTRE Château d’Useé

Château d’Useé [Rigny-Ussé, +33 247955405, ad/ch €13/4] is located at the edge of the Chinon forest, near the village of Rigny-Useé. The picturesque white castle stands amidst a dense green backdrop, overlooking the Indré Valley and its beauty has inspired many, especially Charles Perrault, the author of the classic fairytale- Sleeping Beauty (La Belle au Bois Dormant). It has also been said to be the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Disney logo (look closely and the resemblance is uncanny).

The Château was built on the foundations of an 11th century fortress that was erected by the notorious Viking Gueldin (also known as the Devil of Saumur). He then passed the fort to the Count of Bloise, who rebuilt it in stone and kept it in his family for almost 2 centuries. In the fifteenth century, the fortress was bought over by Jean V de Bueil, who laid the first foundations for the present-day structure. However, due to financial problems, the family was unable to keep the castle in their procession. It was then sold to the Jacques d’Espinay in 1485. His son Charles d’Espinay was responsible for its rebuilding works, introducing the mixture of Flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance styles in the castle’s architecture. 

Inside, the castle houses a noteworthy formal garden that was built by its 17th century owners- the Valentinay. The garden was designed by Le Nôtre, architect of Versailles. The castle also houses a collection of wax figurines that tell the story of Sleeping Beauty as well as life in the château, during the Middle Ages. Many period furniture pieces (Gothic trunks, Renaissance chests and 19th century Italian ceramics) that have been collected by its owners over the centuries are also on display, together with an impressive collection of Flemish tapestries. Guided tours of the castle are available for visiting groups only.  

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CHÂTEAUS NEAR TOURS:   1. Château d’Useé  2. Château de Langeais  3. Chateau de Villandry  4. Château d’Azay-Le-Rideau  5. Château de Chenonceau