Exploring Burgundy: The Château de Bazoches

Visit the impressive Château de Bazoches aboard L’Art de Vivre to experience exquisite architecture, stunning views and to learn of the great Field Marshal, Vauban.

High in the Morvan hills, the Château de Bazoches presides over a grand estate. Its white trapezoid facades are flanked with turreted towers that surround a central courtyard. The castle’s rows of elegant windows look out at vistas of landscaped grounds and woodland.

Once inhabited by the famous military engineer, Marshal Vauban, the impressive fortress of the Château de Bazoches still seems full of this great man’s spirit. Explore its luxurious rooms to shed light on the château’s history and enjoy extraordinary sights of the French countryside, which include views of the distant town of Vézelay.

Château de Bazoches

Where is the Château de Bazoches?

Situated in the verdant Morvan Hills, the Château de Bazoches was built in the beautiful Burgundy countryside. With landscape views all around, the castle looks out upon wooded hillside, the village of Chevroches and the famed Burgundy Canal. On its north-west side, the Château de Bazoches enjoys views of the stunning UNESCO-listed hilltop town of Vézelay, which is just 12 kilometres away. Surrounded by transport links, this Burgundy château is easy to roach by road, railway, or canal.

What is special about the history of the Château de Bazoches?

Formerly, the land that the Château de Bazoches was built on was a Roman military outpost that guarded the road between Autun and Sens, the Roman administrative centre of the region. The entire Burgundy region was popular with the Romans for its fertile soils, which allowed them to cultivate vineyards and produce excellent wines.

In 1180, the original Château de Bazoches was erected by Jean de Saillenay and his original design is still recognisable today. The château has a slightly compressed square shape, which gives it a shorter back than front, and four towers stand at the corners of its tall walls. Overall, the façade of the château is something quite extraordinary – it’s reminiscent of a castle from a fairy tale!

In 1190, the Third Crusade was announced at the nearby village of Vézelay, which is just over 10 kilometres from the Château de Bazoches. Attended by the English King, Richard the Lionheart, and the French King, Philip II, this Christian call to arms was a gathering of armies and the beginning of a third war in the Holy Land. Château de Bazoches played its part in the legendary stories about Richard the Lionheart, who stayed at the castle on his way to Vézelay in 1190.

In 1284, the Château de Bazoches assumed a new owner, Jean de Bazoches, who gave the castle its new name. After passing through several French families from the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries, the château eventually settled into the hands of the Perrière family. In 1570, the illegitimate daughter of the Count de Bazoches married Jacques Le Prestre de Vauban, who acquired the château.

After being retained in the Vauban family for one hundred years, Château de Bazoches was purchased by the military strategist, Marquis de Vauban, from his cousin. Moving into the property in 1675, Vauban set about improving the interior décor and planning the fortification of French towns from its grand rooms.

Still owned by Vauban’s descendants today, the château has been lovingly preserved by his family and has retained much of its seventeenth century character.

Who was Vauban and why is he important?

Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban was a field marshal and military strategist of France in the late 17th century. Unparalleled during his time, and arguably in the entirety of French history, Vauban was an influential military engineer who had a talent for strategizing military fortification.

Vauban’s contribution to the advancement of weaponry during the seventeenth-century was significant. He was a pioneer in the development of the mortar, the bayonet rifle, and the iron-barrelled cannon.

Vauban knew that the revolutionary changes to weaponry made the traditional, feudal fortifications of many French cities and castles vulnerable to attack. As a result, Vauban went about making improvements to the design of around 300 French cities, re-enforcing them against future attack. This included many old French towns like Bayonne, Lille and Dunkirk. His methods of siege craft and fortification have been held in high esteem both within France and by the wider world.

In 1675, Vauban was awarded money by King Louis XIV after his success at the siege of Maastricht. This meant that he was able to buy Château de Bazoches from his cousin and its estates near his childhood home of St-Léger-Vauban. Vauban renovated the château to his own tastes, and it became a military garrison.

Château de Bazoches was where Vauban was also inspired to write many of his musings. Covering a diverse range of topics, Vauban wrote his thoughts on agriculture, currency, and science. It was here at his home that he penned the ‘Royal Tithe’, which was subsequently published, leading to his fall from grace.

Documents at the Chateau de Bazoches

What can I see at the Château de Bazoches?

Filled with sumptuous interiors, Château de Bazoches boasts elegant fabrics, expensive paintings, and extravagant chandeliers. Its décor is reflective of the times of King Louis XIV, who was known for living a luxurious life. Its grand chambers feature gilding, rock crystal and silks, as well as showing off beautiful furniture, rugs, and tapestries. Wander through many of his private rooms, including the bedroom, study, and armoury to really get a feel for this incredible historical leader.

Visitors to the château can see the gallery that was built by Vauban and he invited his engineers to work here. It was in this room that Vauban drew up plans to intensify the fortification of 300 French towns and cities. He was well-known for using intricate models to plan the fortification of the towns, drafting in the use of bastions, moats, and ravelins.

Another room not to miss in this fascinating castle is the library, which displays over 5000 books. It was at the Château de Bazoches that Vauban authored his controversial book, ‘Royal Tithe’, that outlined his distaste for the unfairness of the taxation system and the privilege of the upper classes. After publishing the book without royal permission, Vauban fell from favour with the crown and court, spending his final weeks at Château de Bazoches in societal disgrace.

Whilst visiting, don’t miss an opportunity to see the stunning landscaped grounds that surround the château and enjoy views of the surrounding French countryside.

Bed chambers at the time of King Louis XIV at the Chateau de Bazoches

Cruise to Château de Bazoches aboard L’Art de Vivre

For the chance to visit the Château de Bazoches on a private guided tour, then why not book your space aboard the 8-passenger hotel barge, L’Art de Vivre? Cruise the Burgundy Canal with us to see the very best of the Burgundy landscape and cycle or walk the towpaths for a truly unique impression of the region.

Hotel barge L'Art de Vivre

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