In 1761, the Duke of Choiseul, then prime minister of Louis XV, bought the Chanteloup estate shortly after being appointed governor of Touraine. By 1765, he was increasing and updating the castle and expanding the gardens. Fallen in disgrace, he was exiled from Paris in December 1770 and settled in Chanteloup, where he completed the renovation. There he held a brilliant assembly, passing as a rival of Versailles.
The “Folly of the Duke of Choiseul” or “Monument to Friendship” was built by the Duke in 1775, after his exile from the court of King Louis XV, in tribute to all his friends who had shown him their loyalty.
Very slender, due to the architect Louis-Denis Le Camus, the Chanteloup Pagoda is inspired by the Chinese pagoda of Kew Gardens, designed by the great William Chambers. Le Camus also drew a small Anglo-Chinese garden, located under the pagoda in the northeast square, with kiosk, river, small water pond and cooler. In addition, the Scottish gardener Mac Master, from Thomas Blaikie’s entourage, also intervenes on the estate.
Famous for its beauty and the surprise it causes on the site, this monument of 44 meters high, is supported by a peristyle of 16 columns and 16 pillars. Each of the 7 floors is built in a dome.
Each dome is cut by a narrow, sloping staircase that rises to the top.
This staircase is made of mahogany wood, with the exception of the one on the 1st floor which is stone and guarded by a wrought iron ramp, adorned with gilded bronzes in double C interlaced, with the initials of Choiseul and Crozat, his wife.
From its summit it offers a magnificent panorama of the Amboise forest and the Loire Valley, and was used at the time as a hunting lookout.
The Castle of Chanteloup
The Castle was built in 1713 by Jean d’Aubigny for the Princess of the Ursins.
The estate was purchased by the Duke of Choiseul in 1761.
The Duke instructed the famous architect Le Camus to embellish and enlarge this building.
After his exile ended with the advent of Louis XVI, Choiseul died in 1785 and his estate was sold to the Duke of Penthièvre.
In 1802, the castle was acquired by Chaptal, a remarkable minister of Napoleon I and a great scientist, creator of chemical processes.
It was in Chanteloup that he developed the cultivation of beetroot, the extraction and refining of sugar, giving our country a new wealth of prime importance. In 1823, Chaptal had to get rid of Chanteloup.
While the Duke of Orleans, future King Louis-Philippe, bought the Pagoda to join the forest he had just acquired, the castle fell into the hands of these merchants of goods infamously known as “The Black Band”. Furniture was sold, the castle demolished and gardens well-off.
Today, all that is left of the sumptuous, princely residence is :
The large semi-circular water pond, extended from a large canal, with its large goose paw perspective,
The Concierge’s Little Pavilion, which includes a permanent iconographic exhibition tracing the history of the castle and its gardens,
The two charming pavilions, in the purest Louis XVI style, located on the side of Amboise, and which marked, at the time, by “The Golden Grid”, the entrance to the estate.
The gardens of Chanteloup, which were very important – they covered no less than 4,000 hectares – were created throughout the 18th century.
They were started in 1710 by Jean d’Aubigny. This garden then develops a very classic formal scheme: a vegetable garden, a “French-style” garden around the castle and a wooded garden made of groves and charms with a regular layout.
In 1761, the Duke of Choiseul commissioned his architect Louis-Denis Le Camus to make splendid embellishments.
As in Versailles, there were:
The “Little Park” with its regular layout, surrounding the castle with flower gardens and beautiful waters.
The “Great Park” sinking into the forest with crossroads, stars and long straight avenues.
Without delay, Choiseul had the gardens enhanced in unison with the palace. He devised a spectacular plan, divided into two stages:
It is through the “Great Park” that he begins his transformations, opening seven wide gardened avenues converging at a central point – where the Pagoda will later be built.
He then designed the gardens of the “Little Park” spanning more than a hundred hectares, according to Jean d’Aubigny’s drawing, according to a plan that has remained with us.
To feed the many “water games,” Choiseul undertook considerable work to bring up the water in abundance.
Later, he had a half-moon water pond dug on the highest point of the Chanteloup site. To feed it, he did not hesitate to connect it to the Etangs de Jumeaux located in the forest more than 12 kms in the air, with a vertical drop of only 6 meters, by a canal crossing a valley by a lead siphon! Around 1770, Choiseul undertook to extend this piece of water by a Grand Canal, six hundred meters long and one hundred meters wide.
To the north of the wooded garden, he had a charming little rectangular garden, called the Garden of Orange Trees. Choiseul later transformed the wooded garden into a picturesque garden, in the style known as “Anglo-Chinese”, where a river, whose waters flowed from a height of four metres, was winding through a graceful nymph feeding the central water circle of the Orange Garden.
Giving in to the taste of the time for China, rejecting the rigour of the aristocratic symmetry of the French garden, Choiseul commissioned Le Camus to redesign the gardens of Chanteloup. Inspired by the Anglo-Chinese gardens,Le Camus upsets the wooded garden: the straight ponds are destroyed and replaced by a river with whimsical meanders meandering through rocks, bridges, waterfalls until they run out in a nympheaed. The straight lines of the aisles are replaced by winding paths along the factories, coolers and kiosks.
Captivated by the beauty of the prevailing century, Choiseul wavered however between the natural feel of the anglo-chinese style garden and the rigueur of the French garden. Thus he concluded his garden fantasy by constructing an unnecessary, exotic extravagance (The Pagode) right in the middle of a typically classical perspective which Le Camus then built in the purest style of Louis XVI.
The gardens were destroyed during the Revolution.
The Half-Moon Water Room, extended by the Grand Canal lined with plane trees, which has become a swamp, has been transformed into a bowling alley.
The forest walkways of this 28 acre park and the view of the crossroads which branch out into seven paths.