Pays de la Loire Section
Apremont castle, Vendée’s first Renaissance chateau
Apremont castle, ruined but still impressive!
The first Apremont castle was polygonal.
It was built in the 11th century on the promontory that commands the river Vie and its valley.
Rebuilt in the 16th century, it is today mainly in ruins, but has retained several imposing buildings.
This includes two massive 40m high towers, the châtelet (the fortified entrance where traces of the drawbridge are still visible), the postern that accesses the Rue Basse (street), the chapel, the underground cooler (an outdoor larder for long-term food storage), the amazing horse riders access ramp and the west ramparts.
The Renaissance castle
In the mid 16th century, Philippe Chabot de Brion, Admiral of France and childhood friend of King Francois I, rebuilt the fortress of his ancestors.
Apremont castle was thus the first (Early) Renaissance chateau in Vendée.
It indeed boasts an interesting transitional architecture that combines medieval and Renaissance features.
The thickness of the towers’ walls (2m to 3m) and the loopholes are definitively medieval.
On the other hand, the many embellishments such windows with stone braces, friezes, columns, capitals etc... announce the Renaissance!
Apremont boasts another amazing architectural feature that is unique in Europe, a riders access ramp!
Carved from the rock on which the castle was built, this ramp allowed horse riders to arrive directly into the castle enclosure. This ramp was in fact the main entrance!
A similar ramp was built in one of the castle of Amboise's towers - Tour des Minimes or Tour des Cavaliers (Horsemen Tower).
The Renaissance Apremont castle consisted of a central 3-storey building that connected the two towers.
It was demolished in 1733 and a modest single-storey building erected on its site.
The chapel, home to the castle museum
The single nave chapel dates from the 16th century and has been converted into a historic museum.
Temporary exhibitions take place throughout the summer and relate the castle’s history with photos, documents as well as an optical theatre and film.
However, the museum’s flagship exhibit is the reproduction of the Rouleau d'Apremont, which is on show all year-long.
This parchment is a plan of the project of canalization of the river Vie, which Philippe de Chabot entrusted to the engineer Jehan Florentin.
This project, which never took shape, would have allowed barges to directly access Apremont from the coastal port of Saint-Gilles.
This document of a rare precision boasts the only illustration of the Renaissance castle, and is thus very precious.
Finally if you fancy period costumes, you’ll enjoy the Renaissance Festival that takes place every July in the castle.
Apremont town hall in the castle
The municipality of Apremont has owned the castle since the 1960s.
The single-storey building that lies between the two towers (on the site of the former main building) is home to the town hall.
Thus, only the chapel, east tower, riders access ramp and the park are open to the public.
Apremont castle was classified Historical Monument in 1975 and is definitively worth the detour.
Department of Vendée
Coordinates: Lat 46.749376 - Long -1.741108