France may be famous for its stately, ancestral domains, but the Château de Bazoches is one of a kind. Almost 850 years old, it was formerly the home of one of France’s most extraordinary personalities, and is a national treasure not to be missed by visitors.
TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND | PHOTOS: CHATEAU DE BAZOCHES | MAIN PHOTO: BAZOCHES FROM ABOVE.
The Château’s Grande Gallerie.
Nestled in woodland at the heart of wine-rich region of Burgundy, the Château de Bazoches is one of the region’s highlights. A mere ten kilometres away from the UNESCO-classified town of Vézelay, Bazoches boasts a remarkable history: first erected in 1180, it was passed from one branch of the founding family to another, before being definitively bought five centuries later by the Marechal de Vauban, one of France’s foremost architects and thinkers. Vauban was not only Louis XIV’s trusted military engineer; he was also well known for his work as a philosopher and an economist, but also for his prowess on the field of battle. Bazoches, which he remodelled himself, reflects this extraordinary life: the Grande Galerie, for instance, is not only a sumptuous addition to the edifice, but also the place where he designed some three hundred structures, a good number of which have become iconic in France’s cultural heritage.
Left: Vauban’s working cabinet. Right: Amaury de Sigalas with his ancestor, the Maréchal de Vauban.
What also makes the Château so particular is that it is still inhabited by the same family that founded it, states Amaury de Sigalas, its current custodian (and, consequently, a direct descendant of Vauban). Mr de Sigalas, who first opened the Château’s gates to the public in 1997, speaks passionately and eloquently about its history and its significance today. “Today, about eight million people live in the vicinity of a structure designed by Vauban,” he explains. To him, what matters is to promote a greater understanding of the Maréchal’s impact on France, in the context of his family home. And this approach seems to be working: in 2015, Bazoches competed in Le Monument Préféré des Français, a national TV programme on France’s most enduring monuments, and came eighth – an impressive ranking in a country notorious for its myriad of architectural darlings.
The Maréchal’s bedroom.
The Château is currently open year-round. Although this has not always been the case, visitors who have particularly enjoyed their visit are now given the chance to rent out the grounds for events for up to 250 guests. And last but not least, on certain occasions, and by request only, tours may be given by Mr de Sigalas himself: a guaranteed journey into 17th-century France.