Champ de Bataille Château
An important battle did occur around here, as this castle’s name indicates, asserting Viking William Longsword’s control of Normandy in 935. Today, however, rather than visiting a battlefield, admire some of the most extravagant apartments and gardens in northern France, the brainchild of one of France’s leading designers.
Château du Champ de Bataille © Vudoiseau
The battle after which this castle is named brought victory to William Longsword and confirmed the control of Normandy by Viking settlers, begun under his father, the famed Rollo. You won’t find many traces of the battle here though. What you see today is in grand Ancien Régime style.
The charming château, matched by equally sumptuous stables, went up in the mid-17th century for Alexandre de Créqui. This nobleman was forced into exile in Normandy after taking part in the Fronde, when aristocrats revolted against royal power while Louis XIV was still a young man and France governed by a regent. De Créqui ordered glorious gardens alongside his château. Plans for these have been found which bear the hallmark of the great royal designer to the Sun King, André Le Nôtre.
The estate was not completed by Alexandre de Créqui, and his heir sold it to a rich neighbouring noble family, the Harcourts, who carried out further works. At the Revolution, though, the property was pillaged and the place fell into disrepair. It took the determination of one of France’s most celebrated contemporary designers, Jacques Garcia, to revive both castle and grounds from the 1990s onwards. The gardens are on a regal scale.
Worth a visit
- The grand apartments: the château’s interiors have been magnificently restored, or recreated, and filled with the finest furniture, often original Ancien Régime pieces of the highest quality.
- The gardens: covering a staggering 90 acres, these are some of the most sumptuous gardens in France. Garcia was inspired by plans found of the historic gardens, but he has added many twists of his own, with grand water features and gilded statues.
- Open air opera: once a year the Château du Champ de Bataille provides the setting for a grand opera.
Not to be missed