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Chauteau d'Usse in the Loire Valley

Like many of the other Loire Valley chateaux, Usse was built on the foundations of a small fortress but has had a very tranquil history. Perhaps its location at the edge of the Forest of Chinon has something to do with this.The castle was built for the Buiel family during the second half of the 15th century. The Hundred Years War saw  the family  distinguishing itself  and they were seeking a home befitting there new rank in society. Their stay was short however for Antoine De Buiel, the husband of Louis VII’s daughter, sold the castle in 1485 to Charles Espinay. The new owner set about making many improvements and is known for having the famous chapel built on the grounds. The Espinays had served as chamberlains to many of the royal families of their time. Usse castle has changed hands many times over the years.  In 1885 the Count de Blacas bought the chateau and it is his descendants who still live and make a home there today. We believe that the Marquis de Blacas, who is the grandson of the man who began the Egypt Department at the Louvre, currently resides there.

  

Usse is well furnished with the various pieces of furniture, bought from the best cabinet-makers of the XVIII century making it still one of the best furnished in the area. You can visit the costume exposition, which changes every season, placed in various rooms of the chateau .

With its combination of beauty and the fortress like appearance, it is believed that Perrault wrote his famous story, “Sleeping Beauty,” based on Usse. Of the structure Perrault wrote, “Chateau de la Belle au bois dormant.” This is one of eleven fairytales he wrote in a collection called, “Les Contes de ma mere l’Oye.” The Chateau’s battlement tower is surrounded with glassed-in rooms showing wax figures in scenes from the "The sleeping beauty". It might seem a bit 'tacky' to the purists but the younger kids will like it!

Its also said that the castle influenced the design of Disney’s famous Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World - it all helps bring in the tourists!

The chapel, which is hidden away in the gardens, contains stalls from the 17th century, a ceramic Virgin Mary by Luca Della Robbia (15th century), a series of Aubusson tapestries (17th century) and a Tuscan triptych from the 15th century.`

 

The terraced gardens, designed by Le Notre of Versailles fame, are very pleasant and easy to walk round.

You'll probably be drawn to this chateau like many others before you by its picturesque setting and colourful stories which attach themselves to it but you might just come away a bit disappointed. Its out of the way setting ,the fact that it is in fact only partly open to the public, as little as 25% and its relatively pricey entrance fee make it lower down on the 'must see' list of the Loire Valley chateau--but then again there's Sleeping Beauty!!

 

 

Source of above text and photographs : experienceloire.com

 

 

 

Official website of the chateau : http://chateaudusse.fr

 

 

 

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