Château de Saint-Germain-Beaupré (II) — Revisiting The Fortress Château

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Château de Saint-Germain-Beaupré, a historic Fortified Château I previously posted and referred to as “Juxtaposition Of Royal Pretensions & Battle-Weary Sensibilities”, sits surrounded by a moat, meadows and lakes within a 16 hectare walled estate — newly restored inside with the luxuries and amenities of 21st Century living, and enshrouded by nearly a 1000 years of turbulent family and French history. It is situated 3 hours south of Paris, 25 minutes north of Limoges, in the Limousin.

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The Château Fortress sits on an ancient site dating back to the 12th Century, it suffered enormously during the 100 years war (1337-1453) and was rebuilt several times. For over 600 years the Château Fortress defended the Foucauld family seat – a Protestant, noble Clan, Companions-at-Arms with Jean D’Arc. In October 1605 King Henry IV stayed at the Château, in the room now known as “The Kings’ Suite”— he trusted and maintained great friendship with the Foucauld family.

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Surrounded by its own water system predating the Château’s construction and thought to date back to Roman times, the Château’s same strong water source feeds three lakes and finally cascade into a fish-stocked moat surrounding and protecting the Château.

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Upon entering the stone Gatehouse, the drive winds its way through a glade of exotic and mature trees and shrubs, outbuildings such as a caretaker’s cottage, large stable block, an orangerie, and workshops/garages. Finally sits the stately home of one of the many powerful, warrior families of medieval France. Worn from centuries of conflict, a bridge across the moat and a remotely operated wooden drawbridge permit limited access to the inner sanctum of the Château — total seclusion ensured.

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During the recent refurbishment, no rebuilding took place, but a full restoration of the remaining 16th and 19th Century buildings — where modernity co-exists with architectural elements that have evolved over five centuries, providing all the creature comforts one would expect: bedroom suites / apartments incorporate Carrera marble bathrooms built by Italian craftsmen, and Philippe Starck bathroom fixtures. Polished oak floors conceal start-of-the-art plumbing and electrics. The Château’s two meter thick window recesses retain their original 17th Century hand painted decoration of animals and birds living on the estate.

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The living space is set over three levels. Flagstone floors and a vaulted ceiling in brick lead into the grand salon with a large granite fireplace. A rear salon leads into a secluded library in the tower. Fully fitted kitchen with Carrara marble worktops leads to a dining room with large fireplace and a Murano glass chandelier. A further tower is home to the study and stairs down to an ancient chapel. The granite staircase, with its fully restored gothic ceiling, leads upward.

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The King’s Suite with its four poster bed and fireplace has a walk-in dressing room and Carrera marble bathroom in the tower. The “Grande Mademoiselle” bedroom features a hand painted ceiling, while the Yellow Room with its raised bed and marble en-suite bathroom also has large french windows and pastoral views. The “Octagonal Suite” in one of the towers has a large marble bathroom and views from many windows and balcony. There’s a further guest room with en-suite bathroom.

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Rising another floor up, there is a home-cinema and music room and further accommodation rooms. Outstanding attic space with intricate joinery supporting a unique and notable roof structure throughout the Château.

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A series of well preserved dungeons originally holding prisoners, now offer numerous storage facilities, along with central heating boiler, etc.

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Location in France

The Creuse is France’s hidden department, and forms part of the Limousin region. You have to leave the beaten track to find the many interesting and small towns and hamlets dotting the area.

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Guéret is the capital of the department and has around 15,000 inhabitants, which gives you an idea how sparsely populated this department is. The proximity of the town to both the River Creuse and the Lac du Cortille mean that plenty of watersports are available for both visitors and residents alike.

Bourganeuf has less than 3,500 inhabitants yet has a rich and affluent history, as the Knights Templar had their headquarters here for many years. La Souterraine is another popular small town, steeped in history and has drawn much interest from archaeologists over the years thanks to its 13th century crypt.

The Creuse has some diverse landscapes – from the vast plains of the Berry to the North, the hilly landscape of the Auvergne to the east and woodland to the south. The easiest way to access the Creuse is to fly into Limoges, or catch the TGV high-speed train from Paris.

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VILLAGE & CHURCH OF SAINT-GERMAIN BEAUPRÉ

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St. Germain-Beaupré is a canton of the Underground, which has 846 inhabitants — yes, tiny, indeed. St. Germain-Beaupré itself has a population of about 397.

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The church is a focal point of the village and has undergone many changes, including the end of the XVIII construction period of the bell tower, extended by a tapered lantern  inspired by the towers of the château of Saint Germain Beaupré. It incorporates the stately chapel, built at the end of XV, against the southern flank of the vaulted nave with ribbed arches, tiercerons, and key central vault with weapons of the Foucault family. The west door of the chapel is decorated with a molded and sculpted décor unfortunately cut in its upper part. There is a painting on canvas (late XVII) representing Saint Germain Bishop of Auxerre and a canvas painting (1729), signed Nillaud (limougeaud painter), representing the return of the Rosary to St. Dominic.

Over the years significant damage occurred and operation Saving Popular Heritage Distance Creuse was necessary for the restoration of this church.

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