The castle of Cheverny is a castle of the Loire located in the department of Loir-et-Cher, in the Sologne region. Classified as a historical monument since 2010, the castle of Cheverny was built in the 17th century and designed by Jacques Bougier, an architect to whom we owe in particular the creation of part of the castle of Blois, located a few kilometers away. The Cheverny castle is the second most visited private castle in the Loire Valley, after the Chenonceau castle. It is also known to have inspired Hergé to create the famous castle of Moulinsart. In this article, we will look at the history of the Cheverny castle, its architecture and gardens, without forgetting the link that unites it to the adventures of Tintin, the famous cartoon character created by Hergé.
The history of the castle of Cheverny
During the 14th century, the lands of Cheverny are entrusted to a certain Jean Hurault. In 1551, Diane de Poitiers, favorite of King Henry II, acquired the old castle but the sale being contrary to the law in force at the time, she had to return it to Jacques and Philippe Hurault, sons of the former owner. In 1596, Jacques Hurault gave the Cheverny estate to his son Henri. In 1604, Henri Hurault, Count of Cheverny, married Marguerite Gaillard de la Morinière for the second time, before being recalled by the king. Marguerite Gaillard, in charge of the estate, decided to build a new castle to replace the old fortress that had fallen out of fashion. In 1630, the old house was razed and the architect Jacques Bougier was entrusted with supervising the construction of the new building, while the decoration was entrusted to Jean Mosnier. The French-style gardens, which have now disappeared, are the work of Gilles Guérin, a sculptor who had already worked for the palace of Versailles. The work on the new castle of Cheverny was completed in 1634. In 1654, Cécile Elisabeth, Marquise de Montglas, one of the last two heirs of the Gaillard-Hurault couple, bought out her sister’s share to become the sole owner of Cheverny.
Over the next 150 years, the castle of Cheverny changed owners several times. In 1825, after having escaped the French Revolution, the Cheverny estate was entrusted to Victor Hurault, Marquis of Vibraye. In 1922, the castle of Cheverny was opened to the public.
The architecture of the Cheverny castle
The castle of Cheverny is built in a classical and homogeneous style, in stone of bourré, stones originating from the village having the characteristic to whiten and to harden, while ageing. The roofs of the side pavilions of square shape surmounted by openwork campaniles frame the French roofs. The interior of the castle is composed of the following elements
- The dining room: decorated with 34 wooden panels painted by Jean Mosnier, the dining room of the castle of Cheverny illustrates the story of Don Quixote and its furniture, mainly made of solid oak, dates from the 19th century. A monumental fireplace surmounted by the bust of King Henry IV stands out in the room.
- A classical stone staircase leads to the apartments.
- The large living room: it is composed of a Louis XVI style table and a set of chests of drawers and sofas dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
- The gallery: a gallery decorated with portraits leads to the small salon and the library of the castle of Cheverny.
- The small salon: composed of Empire style furniture, the small salon of Cheverny also presents 5 tapestries of Flanders.
- The library: the walls of the Cheverny library are covered with wainscoting and house nearly 2000 books and complete collections.
- The tapestry room: decorated with 5 Flemish tapestries dating from the 17th century, the tapestry room of Cheverny is mainly furnished with Regency style armchairs and a boulle style chest of drawers dating from the time of Louis XIV.
- The arms room: The arms room is the largest room in the castle of Cheverny. Decorated by Jean Mosnier, it exhibits a collection of weapons and armors dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. A Renaissance style fireplace restored with gold leaf adorns the room.
- The king’s bedroom: the king’s bedroom is the most decorated room in Cheverny with its 8 tapestries dating from 1640. Italian-inspired paintings adorn the ceiling and a 15th-century four-poster bed is covered with Persian borders.
The park and gardens of the Cheverny castle
The park of the castle of Cheverny extends over a hundred hectares and is built around magnificent remarkable trees such as redwoods, cedars and lime trees, as well as large expanses of lawns. The main alley, in front of the castle, is decorated with 157 cedars and is 6 kilometers long! The park of the castle of Cheverny hosts nowadays 6 thematic gardens evolving according to the seasons.
- The Bouquetier vegetable garden: this vegetable garden is located in front of the trophy room of the castle of Cheverny. The garden mixes flowers and seasonal vegetables to offer a multicolored vision. A fountain is located in the center of the vegetable garden and a system of aquaponics allows to feed the plants thanks to the dejections of the fish! The flowers of the Bouquetier vegetable garden are also used to decorate the rooms of the castle of Cheverny throughout the year.
- The apprentice garden: created in 2006 as part of a reintegration project, the apprentice garden occupies the former site of the French garden, which has now disappeared. The Apprentice Garden combines the characteristics of both formal and formal gardens. Located between the castle and the orangery, the apprentice garden also offers a breathtaking view of the northern façade.
- The garden of love: this garden is a tribute to love, life and family. It is mainly decorated with monumental sculptures in bronze, named Aurora, the two sisters, prelude, the fall, the wave and the two trees.
- The tulip garden: this garden is decorated with more than 250,000 tulip bulbs of the “triumph” variety planted in the fall. The tulips form a ribbon 250 meters long and 12 meters wide that winds through the park from the pond. Another 100,000 tulips in the apprentice garden and the flower garden are in bloom on the Cheverny estate. 7 gardeners work all year long to create this natural spectacle rich in colors!
- The labyrinth: composed of Caucasian laurels, the labyrinth is a space that delights young and old. Appearing in the 15th century, the labyrinth garden also symbolized order and domestication over nature.
- The sweet garden: this new garden was created after the second confinement. The sweet garden is a French orchard composed of 370 trees and shrubs that cover one hectare. Located between the northern facade of the castle and the orangery, the sweet garden opens the doors to an infinite world of flavors and variations of fruit.
The castle of Cheverny and Moulinsart
During the interwar period, Hergé, in search of a model to illustrate the castle of Moulinsart, stopped on the castle of Cheverny that he amputated its two wings and because it corresponds perfectly to his technique: the clear line. With its perfect symmetry and its sobriety, the Moulinsart castle marks the mind of any reader of Tintin’s adventures. Residence of Captain Haddock and his friends, the castle of Moulinsart is present or mentioned in 10 of the 24 albums of the famous reporter and it appears for the first time in “the secret of the unicorn”. It is thanks to the sale of the patent of his shark-shaped submarine that Professor Tournesol allows Captain Haddock to acquire Moulinsart. In the same way, it is while making the tour of the owner that Tintin and Captain Haddock discover, in the underground of the castle, the treasure of Rackham the Red. To create the castle of Moulinsart, Hergé was also inspired by the interior of the castle of Cheverny, as well as the furniture which composes it and this, thanks to a tourist brochure which described this famous domain located at a few kilometers from Blois.
In 2001, a collaboration between the Hergé foundation and the castle of Cheverny allows to welcome a permanent exhibition named “the secrets of Moulinsart”. This interactive exhibition, unique in France, covers 700 m² and allows a life-size immersion in the main rooms of Moulinsart, as well as in the laboratory of Professor Tournesol!
The Cheverny castle is located 2h30 from Paris and a few kilometers from the Chambord castle and the Beauval zoo. Open to the public, the castle can also be privatized for receptions or company seminars. Stays with suites are also available to individuals in the outbuildings of the castle: 8 luxurious suites welcome you for an unforgettable stay in the heart of the Loire Valley!
For more information, visit the Cheverny website: www.chateau-cheverny.fr