The castle is in the Ile de France and with Chevreuse protects the Eastern approaches to Paris, some 35 miles away.  It stands in Montfort lands and is claimed without evidence to have been built by Count Amaury Montfort of Evreux (d.1137).  All the history that is actually known of the site is that it stands on the site of Merovingian necropolis and that the Montforts became dukes of Brittany in 1365.  On the extinction of the ducal house the castle passed to the Crown in 1532.  Other than that its life seems eminently uneventful.

The enceinte of the castle is now gone leaving just the 82' high keep set on a low, rocky outcrop dominating the surrounding town.  The keep, some 50' in diameter and with walls over 10' thick, was modified to hold a water tower and is now extensively and unsympathetically modernised.  It is externally round and has 4 round turrets, rather than the one found at Longtown.  The interior is square with chamfered corners behind the turrets.  The west turret houses the spiral staircase, while the remaining three are solid at ground floor level and provide small chambers off the hall at 1st floor level.  The original entrance was 20' above the ground, set in the north turret.  From here a mural stairways leads down to the basement and up to the hall.  From the upper level a spiral stair in the west turret led to the upper floor and battlements.  The mix of mural and spiral stairs as is often found in French castles, viz. Loches, is apparent.  The upper walls are 16' higher than the gutter to mask and protect the roof, which was therefore presumably of combustible material when the keep was built.  Other buildings once stood against the keep.

A seventeenth century sketch shows the castle as semi-derelict, with much of the enceinte ruinous.  However the keep was still roofed as was a round mural tower to the south, both still sporting pepperpot roofs.  Between the towers stood a rectangular free standing hall-like building.  A chapel appears to lie next to the keep to the north, beyond which was a gatehouse leading to the town to the north.  The whole site was surrounded by a deep moat and the curtain where surviving to the south-west had many tall buttresses, which appear more modern than those found at William Rufus' Gisors shell keep.

Why not join me here and at other French castles?  Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry

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