At first glance, the Château de Bazoches would not necessarily get a military buff’s pulse racing. This grand Burgundian château dates back to the 12th century, when it was first built on the site of an old Roman outpost looking over the Morvan hills. Its elegant interiors are largely preserved from the 17th century, reflecting the tastes of King Louis XIV’s refined courtiers. However, its most famous owner was far from an aestheticist.
Exploring Burgundy: The Château de Bazoches
The Seat of Vauban
This owner was Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, a Marshal of France in the late 17th century. Vauban was an unparalleled military engineer and strategist of his time. He was a pioneer in the development of the mortar, the bayonet rifle and the iron-barrelled cannon. Following his success in the siege of Maastricht in 1675, he was awarded a considerable amount of money by King Louis XIV, with which he purchased the château and its estates near his childhood home, St-Léger-Vauban.
A Genius at Work
The gallery of the Château de Bazoches became the nerve centre of Vauban’s military plans. It was here that he planned his strategies and fortification designs, using intricate models featuring bastions, moats and ravelins. Vauban knew that the revolutionary changes to weaponry made the traditional, feudal fortifications of many French cities and castles vulnerable to attack. There are around 300 French cities that owe their design to Vauban, including Bayonne, Lille and Dunkirk. His methods of siege craft and fortification were revered and emulated for almost 100 years.t a trip to Bazoches will not disappoint.
When he wasn’t plotting military strategies, Vauban liked to write his ‘Idlenesses’, books on subjects as diverse as agriculture, science and currencies. It was at Bazoches that he penned his famous ‘Royal Tithe’, a protest against the privileges of the upper classes and the unfairness of the taxation system. He published the book without royal permission, resulting in his subsequent fall from grace in the last few weeks of his remarkable life.
Military enthusiasts will be fascinated by a visit to the Château de Bazoches today. Not only are you able to walk through the grand gallery where Vauban made plans that were put into effect all over France, but you can also visit the library of this beautiful stately home, containing over 5,000 books.
An excursion to explore the château and its spectacular views is a fitting end, or beginning, to our Classic Cruise aboard L’Art de Vivre. Whether it is your first taste of Burgundy or your final farewell to this beautiful region, we’re sure that a trip to Bazoches will not disappoint.