The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 19

Delicious sunshine cocktails and scrumptious recipes, brilliant features and tons of information and gorgeous photos to inspire your visits. The secret life of castles in Burgundy, the Abbey of Senanque in Provence, Sainte-Denis, Lourdes, Calvados in Normandy, Paris, Grenoble and more...

Chateau de Sully,

Chateau de Sully, Saone-et-Loire Madame de Sévigné, a 17th century aristocrat famous for recording daily life through copious letters, called the courtyard of the Chateau de Sully “the most beautiful in France”, and she wasn’t wrong. It is a huge space, perfect for partying aristos and surrounded by the walls of the fabulous castle. The gorgeous courtyard (photo page: 8-9) was designed by Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes, a favourite of Queen Catherine de Medici. The Chateau is perhaps not as well-known as it ought to be as it is in the middle of beautiful burgundy countryside, around 35km from Beaune, but it's well worth the effort to visit and explore the beautiful grounds and interior. Built around 1567, this is no museum chateau, in fact it’s still lived in by Madame la Duchesse de Magenta, Marquise de Mac Mahon. It has a pinch of medieval, a dash of Renaissance and is elegant and pretty as a picture. Surrounded by a moat fed by the River Drée, you cross a five arch bridge to enter the castle passing by what look like giant, ancient stone chess pieces. In fact they are symbols of the pride of a previous owner who on being made a Marquis celebrated by ordering the great stone sculptures of artefacts that feature on a marquis' coronet. The castle has been in the Mac Mahon family for several generations after Jean Mac Mahon, an Irish doctor married an heiress who inherited the castle. It was the home of Patrice de Mac Mahon, President of France from 1875-1879. The Duchess who hails from Scotland, married the Duke of Mac Mahon and it is she who lives there with her children and manages the vast estate ensuring the castle’s well-being. You’ll often spot her flitting about the castle and gardens followed by her excitable, friendly dogs. Inside the rooms are furnished with family heirlooms.

The family have hardly changed anything but maintained the integrity and historic beauty of the chateau for future generations. There’s no central heating and in a big castle like this, it can get very cold in the winter. “We have hot water bottles” says the Duchess laughing. Thanks to this determination to keep the chateau authentic, a guided tour reveals the exquisite footprints of history in every room. Unlike some chateaux the French Revolution didn’t leave its mark. Legend has it that the when the revolutionaries arrived to take the widowed Marquise to prison, the family explained that she was in her 80s and was dying and they persuaded the mob to come back when she had passed, which was predicted to be soon. The old lady did die a few weeks later but the canny family put her body in a barrel of brandy. When the revolutionaries returned, the family retrieved the body, put it in bed and pretended the old lady was still ill. The revolutionaries insisted on seeing her and agreed that she really didn’t look well. This went on until the French Revolution calmed down and the chateau survived. To this day says the Duchess, no one knows what day the Marquise actually died on, so they put 14 July 1978 on her grave. Guided visits are available daily (March to November), in English in summer months, and there are events throughout the year. It's especially kid-friendly with lots to do. Dont miss the delicious tea room and irresistible shop where you can buy the Estate's wine and fab souvenirs. Top: Amelie, Duchesse de Magenta with her sister Charlotte with some wine made from the Chateau's estate. Above: the incredible stone sculptures that represent the pieces from a Marquis' coronet

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