Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Advent Day Twenty-one, Christmas at the Château

French Village Diaries advent day twenty-one Christmas at the château de Dampierre sur Boutonne
Christmas at the Château de Dampierre-sur-Boutonne


Advent Day Twenty-one 

Christmas at the Château

The Château de Javarzay might well be silently hibernating, but just a bit further along the Boutonne river there is another beautiful Renaissance château that is opening its doors with a festive twist in the run up to Christmas and New Year. A few weekends ago, we treated ourselves to a lovely Sunday afternoon outing, looking around the Château de Dampierre-sur-Boutonne

 

The main difference between the two châteaux is that whereas Javarzay is owned by the local council and houses a fully up to date multi-media museum experience, Dampierre is owned by a couple who live onsite and is furnished as you would expect for a period property. Even before we’d stepped inside, there was a certain magic to the place, and I was keen to compare and contrast the visitor experience, as I am ashamed to admit that even after eighteen years in this area, this was my first visit inside this château.



French Village Diaries advent day twenty-one Christmas at the château de Dampierre sur Boutonne
Château de Dampierre-sur-Boutonne

 

We are no strangers to the village of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne, as it is a handy morning coffee stop for our annual one-hundred kilometres in a day bike ride that follows the Rives de Boutonne cycle route to Saint Jean d’Angély. It did seem a bit weird driving there rather than arriving by bike, but with the shorter days and colder temperatures, a sixty-kilometre day on the bikes and a château visit, was probably pushing it a bit. On the back-road drive, the copper-leaved forests gave way to villages, where starlings lining the telephone wires looked like strings of sparkly fairy lights in the sunshine, but the smoke rising from chimneys gave a more accurate picture of the weather that was a fresh 6º outside. Adrian suddenly brought the car to a halt, explaining “woah, look at that!”. Hurtling past in a field to our left was an enormous wild boar. Sundays are hunt days here and bit further on we saw some hunter’s vans parked up in the woods. Chances are he had been flushed out, but he seemed to have put quite a bit of distance between himself and the madmen, so fingers crossed this time it was Piggy 1 Hunters 0.

 

The festive touches at the château included a small Christmas market set up in the Orangery, that gave us a covid-safe shopping opportunity, and the château was decorated in a certain style that made us smile. As well as grand salons with antique furniture and impressive Christmas trees whose scent filled the space, and were decorated with just enough sparkle, there were hilarious touches too.


French Village Diaries advent day twenty-one Christmas at the château de Dampierre sur Boutonne
Christmas Gingerbread at Dampierre-sur-Boutonne


My favourite had to be the cardboard gingerbread man popping out of an antique vase, but it was the suit of armour wearing his Santa hat at a jaunty angle and a dangling bauble that made my friend cry with laughter. 

 


French Village Diaries advent day twenty-one Christmas at the château de Dampierre sur Boutonne
Chevalier de Noel at Dampierre-sur-Boutonne


There has been a château in Dampierre since the year 995, but the Hundred Years’ war (1337-1453) left the medieval château badly damaged. It was rebuilt in the Renaissance style, on the banks of the Boutonne river, by François de Clermont after he fell in love with the Italian Renaissance châteaux on a visit to Italy with the King of France. 


 

French Village Diaries advent day twenty-one Christmas at the château de Dampierre sur Boutonne
The upper gallery at Dampierre-sun-Boutonne


It was the decoratively carved stone ceiling of the upper gallery, that dates from the mid 1500’s, that really caught my eye. One visit wasn’t enough to take in all the emblems, mottos and symbols that would have proved to all visitors that this family had style and money. The recurring H & C entwinned letters also prove the Clermont family were loyal to Henri II and Catherine Medici and under their Royal protection. There was so much history, I was in my element and will have to return for another visit. 



French Village Diaries advent day twenty-one Christmas at the château de Dampierre sur Boutonne
The château grounds at Dampierre

 

The grounds at Dampierre are also worth taking your time to explore. There is a moat, a labyrinth, and formal gardens set on islands. Everywhere I looked there were hidden treasures like dragons, swords and a giant chess set. 

 

It is difficult to compare to the museum housed in the Château de Javarzay, as in my opinion, both warrant a visit. How about combining the two with a weekend discovering some of the treasures of the Boutonne?

 

You can read more about the Château on their website here and if you are local, the château is open from 14h to 17h30 on 21st, 22nd, 27th, 28th and 29th December.


 

 

French Village Diaries advent day twenty-one Christmas at the château de Dampierre sur Boutonne
Christmas at the Château de Dampierre

 

 

2 comments:

  1. We went to this Chateau a few years ago. There was an exhibition about Dahli which we found very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read a lot about their Dahli exhibition, but the Christmas opening isn't the full access and guided tour, so not sure if it's something that will be available again next year. If so, I'll have to return.

      Delete

Please don't be shy, I love to hear from you.