Welcome to the castle of La Roche-Guyon ( 28/09/2009 )
A castle hanged to the cliff
From the first troglodytic hideaway to the blockhouses dug by Rommel into the cliff, discover 1000 years of history in one of the most protected site of Ile de France.
Standing against the chalk cliff since the Middle Ages, dominating a loop of the Seine, this strange castle has always puzzled the visitor. From the medieval keep to the XVIIIth century stables, from the first cave dwellings to the vegetable garden of the "Lumieres", from the reception rooms to the casemates fitted out by Rommel, the castle is a course in architecture.
AN IMPREGNABLE FORTRESS
Originaly, the La Roche Guyon castle was entirely dug into a limestone hill that dominates the Seine, hidden from the enemy’s eyes, while offering a wide panorama of the valley.Guy VI’s death at Azincourt allows the castle to fall into the hands of the English. During the Renaissance period, it comes back to the Silly family who undertakes the extension of the central building. The castle forgets its military past to become a seignorial residence. François I and Henry II come and stay for their hunting parties and Henri IV does not consider it beneath him to court the charming lady who lives in the place unsuccessfully in fact In the XVIIth century, a vegetable garden is created on the embankment between the castle and the river, thus giving a surface which could be cultivated. It also forms a wall against the floods and keeps away the Seine which used to supply the moats with water in the Middle Ages.
The lords dwelling was part of the hill of the Vexin plateau. The Lords of La Roche, traditionally named Guy, left their name to the place : La Roche Guyon. It was in 911, when the Saint Clair treaty was signed, that the castle achieved its military function, which was to defend the border. With the confrontation between the Normans and the Francs, the rupested castle of La Roche Guyon takes all its importance: it gradually becomes a fortified castle.
In the XIVth century, a manor-house protected by a defensive wall was built at the bottom of the cliff, dominated at the top, by the solid stone keep which has stood there since the end of the XIIth century. Defended by two lines of walls that follow its spur shape, this keep is linked to the manor-house by a secret passage dug into the rock. Its dominating position above the Seine and Epte valleys gives it an invaluable strategic value.
FROM WAR TO PLEASANT GAMES
LA ROCHE-GUYON AT THE AGE OF THE ENLIGHTENMENTIn the XVIIIth century, the spirit of the Enlightenment reaches La Roche Guyon. The Duke of La Rochefoucauld and his daughter, the Duchess of Enville undertake large scale work in the castle : monumental entrance, stabbles, new wings, terraces merge into the medieval fortress.
Turgot, Condorcet and Young meet together in the large living-room, the library or the little theatre,a secret jewel of the castle. An astronomical observatory is installed in the southeast tower. The village is equipped with a modern system of water conveyance, a cotton mill, a brickyard. The XVIIIth century vegetable garden is relaid out according to the physiocratic ideas, and covers about four hectares, turning itself into a major element of the ornamental composition of the site.
La Roche Guyon is at its height and becomes a place where one discusses and practices the philosophy of the LUMIERES and where the humanism of the owners of the manor benefits the whole village and its surroundings.
FROM THE XIXth CENTURY UNTIL TODAYIn the XIXth century, the Abbot-Duke of Rohan inherits the property. He refurbishes the old troglodytic chapel and gives it its current shape. Victor Hugo, Lamartine and Montalembert occasionally come and stay in the castle. In 1829, appointed cardinal of Besançon, the Duke of Rohan sells back his shares of the inheritance to his cousin, François XIII de La Rochefoucauld. In february 1944, there was a short return of the military vocation of the castle, Field Marshall Rommel settles in with his staff. Casemates are secretely dug in the cliff. In the fifties Edgar P.Jacob chooses the village and the castle for the setting of the Blake and Mortimer album: "The Diabolic Trap". The "Chronoscaphe" in one of the the "boves" of the castle is the scenographic witness of this strip cartoon.
In 2004, the Castle of La Roche Guyon becomes a Public Institution of Cultural Cooperation, the project of which being elaborated around history, literature, architecture and landscape.
Enjoy your visit ! Guided tours (avalaible with the entrance ticket) on sundays at 3 p.m. or upon request (special price).
Chateau de La Roche-Guyon : 01 34 79 74 42 or 08 11 09 16 96 (local call) ; contact information@chateaudelarocheguyon or the webmaster via the website...
Discover : The Château de La Roche-Guyon (in english), by Christophe Morin (architectural historian), illustrated by Sylvain Hitau (photograph) edited by "Les Editions du Patrimoine" in the "Itinéraires" series. The best guide for your visit, also avalaible at the castle.
Price : 7 Euros.
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