Château du duc d’Epernon


The ‘Château du duc d’Epernon’ is an abandoned castle. It was built on the site of a long gone medieval castle. The castle is located in Fontenay-Trésigny alongside the Bréon stream, in the heart of a once walled old town.

The history of the town is closely linked to the history of the château. The Castellans were lords of Fontenay-en-Brie during the Old Regime. The architecture of the château is marked by the different eras when it was rebuilt after falling more or less in ruins.

The medieval castle was rebuilt by Jean Le Mercier in 1389. It was enclosed by walls and moat, situated around a courtyard with two drawbridges. It used to be built on a pilgrimage road from Paris to Rome. The lord of the castle collected a fee from travelers passing through his domain. The current building has retained the rectangular plan, flanked by round towers. Guillaume Prudhomme rebuild the castle after 1538.

Pleasure palace

The present château dates from the first half of the 17th century. It was built by Jean de Nogaret de La Valette, and was planned as a pleasure palace. The rooms were made comfortable and decorated with tapestries and paintings. The ground floor and the guard room floor were covered with large glazed tiles. The château did not undergo major changes until the beginning of the 19th century. The Marquis de Gontaut-Biron, the owner in 1837, restored the main house, the side wing and the two other wings. To open up the courtyard he pulled down the entrance wing with its turrets, the drawbridge, and two of the corner towers that housed the gothic chapel and a prison. The gardens and the old farm were landscaped into a leisure park.

The château has been classified as a Monument since 1963 and its park land is included in the List of Remarkable Gardens of France. In the 1940s, the château of Fontenay was occupied by youth camps.

In 1976, the paneled living room on the ground floor, which then served as an apple sales outlet, was destroyed by fire. The problems with the castle really began after the complex was converted into an agricultural site, as a result the castle was gradually left abandoned. In 1986, shoring was placed to ensure the conservation of the castle. Over the years, the damage increases. 

Future plans

In 2006, Mr. Samuel Tasse sold the château to a property developer specializing in historic buildings, which came forward with plans for dividing it into twelve apartments and creating another forty-eight in the various outbuildings. However, this was not brought to completion, due to the developer going into liquidation in 2014. In 2014, the castle was partially burned and occupied by squatters.

The château continues to decay for another 10 years, when the castle was sold to a new owner. The building will be restored with traditional materials like sandstone, lime coatings and slates, giving the castle an aesthetic consistent with its 16th century architecture and also offering the prospect of lasting conservation. The Photos of ‘Château du duc d’Epernon’ were taken in 2015.

Built in 1902
Abandoned in 2000
Restored 2024
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