25 April 2024

Eclectic France

Observations on the sites, sounds and events around France


Wall Paintings at Chateau de Gizeux

The historic Chateau de Gizeux isn’t the best known of the chateaux in the Loire but it could lay claim to being one of the prettiest and there is lots to see and do. The chateau can trace its origins back to the 11th century although the present buildings date from the 13th century and the medieval period through to the Renaissance. It certainly looks the part.

Wall paintings at the Chateau de Gizeux
One of the wall paintings at the Chateau de Gizeux

The treasures on display at Gizeux include some unique 17th century wall paintings depicting various royal palaces and chateaux. These total around 400 square metres and they are impressive to say the least. They can be found in a gallery that connects the main building with a section that is currently not in use.

The paintings had begun to deteriorate and the owners needed to save them. Over the past decade they have been gradually restoring the gallery including the paintings and ceiling with the help of some of France’s leading specialists. One of the paintings was restored during 2018/9 with support from the Dartagnan crowd-sourcing fund and unveiled during a special weekend of events during June 2019. My wife had donated to the project and the Chateau invited us to join the guests.

A party at the Chateau de Gizeux
Celebrating the unveiling of the wall paintings at the Chateau de Gizeux

The event also included a guided tour of the chateau led by the owners, Géraud et Stéphanie de Laffon. They had laid on quite a show with members of staff and guests from a local acting school playing out a story that helped explain the history of the site and the people that have lived there. Afterwards there was a party for guests in the garden.

All visits to Gizeux are guided and I suspect that Géraud and Stéphanie are often involved. They certainly seemed to be hands-on hosts. The website has details of opening times and how to visit. Tours are normally in French but the guides can also speak English and some other languages. There is also plenty of information available in main languages.

In addition to the normal guided visits there are “nocturne” openings during July and August as well as special events throughout the year. They also host a number of activity sessions for children.

Chateau de Gizeux also welcomes guests to stay in one of its rooms, each with period furniture and decor. We were lucky to stay in one of these on the night after the unveiling event. I think it’s probably the quietest I have ever been in someone else’s home. In the morning Stéphanie prepared and served breakfast herself. If you want the authentic chateau experience this is the place for you.

This year the chateau is starting to restore its chapel. Click here to see how you can help.