Pays de la Loire Section
Chateau de Montreuil Bellay - Walled City
Chateau de Montreuil Bellay in Anjou
The Chateau de Montreuil Bellay is located in the south of Angers.
Atop a promontory that overlooks the river Thouet, it boasts splendid views of the terraced gardens that unfold on the river banks.
The medieval castle and its village spread over 4km² and were once entirely enclosed within a rampart. Montreuil is today the last of the 32 walled cities of Anjou.
The Chateau de Montreuil Bellay consists of two sets of buildings: the medieval fortress or Vieux Château (old castle) and the 15th century French Renaissance Nouveau Château (new).
Its massive ramparts, which have retained 13 round towers and 6 gates, encompass it fully.
Vieux Château, a medieval castle
Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou, built the first fortress in 1025 on the site of a Roman stronghold. He bequeathed it to one of his vassals, Giraud Berlay, whose name evolved into Bellay.
All that is left of this fortress are the Vieux Château, the barbican that leads to the courtyard and the foundations of the 17m long keep.
The Vieux Château (the current owners' private apartments) is not open to the public.
Eighteen towers, a drawbridge and a moat once protected the fortress. An underground passageway connected it also to the outside and therefore allowed the inhabitants to stock up on food in case of siege.
Guillaume de Melun-Tancarville, lord of Montreuil Bellay, died in 1415 at the battle of Azincourt. His grandson, Guillaume d'Harcourt, married Yolande de Laval, the sister in law of King René of Anjou.
A wealthy merchant from Saumur bought the castle after the French Revolution. His daughter married Baron Alexandre Adrien de Grandmaison, an officer of the guard of Charles X.
She and her husband restored the castle. They bequeathed it to their nephew Baron Georges Charles Alfred Marie Millin de Grandmaison. Commonly known as Georges de Grandmaison, he was also a descendant of Count Lobau, the aide-de-camp of Napoleon I.
Grandmaison, who was mayor of Montreuil-Bellay and deputy of the department of Maine-et-Loire, transformed his castle into a military hospital during WWI. His descendants still own the Chateau de Montreuil Bellay.
Chateau de Montreuil Bellay's interior decoration
The Nouveau Chateau boasts a wealth of exceptional pieces of furniture.
The Music Room exhibits a bureau designed by Boulle and adorned with tortoise-shell and copper inlays, a technique the renowned cabinetmaker invented.
The Main Lounge boasts fine tapestries, furniture, paintings, woodwork and the trunk of Queen Margot, the first wife of Henri IV and the beams of the Dining Room's ceiling are adorned with grotesques (sculpted masks).
The Chateau de Montreuil Bellay is also famous for its wine and cellars. Georges de Grandmaison indeed founded the Wine Brotherhood La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Sacavin in 1904. The purpose of the association is the protection and promotion of Anjou wines.
The sacavin was a 2 or 3-liter barrel labourers used to transport their daily ration of wine, while working in the vineyards.
Department of Maine-et-Loire
Coordinates: Lat 47.133165 - Long -0.154227