There are a number of rambling, historical châteaux in Burgundy, built as strongholds to protect the inhabitants of the region. However, the breathtaking Château d’Ancy-le-Franc, stands apart from the tradition; it was constructed less as a stronghold and more as a status symbol.
The first thing that strikes you when visiting the château is the symmetry of its stunning stonework. This is the hallmark of seminal Renaissance architect, Sébastiano Serlio, who had worked on the Palace of Fontainebleau for King François I before being commissioned to design Ancy-le-Franc. He was the author of an influential treatise and a highly respected master of architecture during the Renaissance period. Unfortunately, he died in 1554 before the palace was completed, but his designs were faithfully followed by his successor.
Residing in the centre of a beautiful park on the banks of the Canal de Bourgogne, the palace is built on a perfectly square footprint, featuring a vast central courtyard. The exterior is imposing in scale but relatively reserved in decoration; the lavish tastes of its owners, the Dukes of Burgundy, only become apparent when you step through the grand front door.