Ducal Decadence: the Château de Germolles

As one of the finest surviving examples of a Burgundian ducal residence, a visit to Château de Germolles is a popular excursion on our barge cruises of Southern Burgundy aboard Finesse. It’s a serene setting in which to learn more about the influential dukes who shaped Burgundy in the late medieval and early Renaissance periods.

Chateau de Germolles

Philip the Bold

The Valois Dukes of Burgundy – Philip the Bold, John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold – were thought to have ruled over the “Golden Age” of medieval Burgundy, when the groundwork was laid for both a cultural and an economic Renaissance in the region. Philip made the impressive Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in Dijon his central seat, adding a vast ceremonial hall and kitchens where 30 chefs could prepare a banquet all at once.

In 1380 the Château de Germolles, described as “austere” at first, was offered by Philip to his wife, Margaret III of Flanders. The house would soon be turned into a refined and luxurious country retreat by the Duchess, boasting murals painted by the best artists from the Burgundian School.

Although the palace at Dijon retains very little of its architecture from this period, the house at Germolles is a wonderfully preserved example of the splendour of the ducal court on the eve of the Renaissance.

Château de Germolles

Visiting the Château

Heraldic frescos decorate the private apartments of Margaret’s country residence; the chapels and the Hall of Honour are also impressive late medieval statements, while the thirteenth-century storeroom gives you a glimpse into the effort it would have taken downstairs to maintain such a grand house. Tours are often conducted by the present-day owners of the property, who are able to share a great deal of the château’s history. History lovers aboard the hotel barge Finesse are always impressed and enlightened by this fascinating visit.

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