Impregnable citadel allying Renaissance grace with powerful medieval architecture, the Château de Montreuil-Bellay is a privately owned historic monument, inhabited by the same family since 1822 and replete with valuable furniture transmitted from one generation to the next. Rather exceptionally, it has conserved its defensive features, thereby bearing testimony to typical architecture in the Middle Ages. A visit to the château can be combined with the tasting and purchase of wines from the estate (AOP Saumur) often rewarded for their appreciated quality. For a stay lasting several days in the walled town of Montreuil-Bellay, there exists a 17th-century hotel with a view of the château, the Relais du Bellay.
The initial citadel was constructed in the 11th century by the renowned Foulques Nerra, Count of Anjou, on the foundations of a Roman oppidum. The château of Montreuil-Bellay rapidly garnered a reputation as an impregnable site on the front lines of combats between the throne of England and the crown of France. During the 15th century it was profoundly transformed through edification of the canons’ lodgings, the collegiate church, the barbican and the gatehouse. Husband of Yolande de Laval, the sister-in-law of King René, Guillaume d’Harcourt was responsible for building a new, elegant, giant tufa château; construction got underway in 1485.
One of the most illustrious owners of the château of Montreuil-Bellay was Geneviève de Condé, Duchess of Longueville and cousin of Louis XIV. . Instigator of the Fronde protest movement along with her brother, the Grand Condé, she was forced by the Sun King into exile behind the walls of a gilded cage…
A moving moment in a visit will consist in discovery of the room imprisoning a strong-willed woman who made her mark on history by breaking with the rigid codes of the royal court.
Montreuil-Bellay is a citadel whose destiny is closely connected with the history of France. During the French Revolution, it was requisitioned and converted into a prison for female monarchists. Some years later, it was acquired by a rich Saumur tradesman whose daughter married Baron Alexandre Adrien de Grandmaison, a guard officer for Charles X. Their nephew, a legislator representing the district of Saumur for nearly half a century, opened the doors of the château to nearly 1200 soldiers wounded during the First World War.
The Château de Montreuil-Bellay continues to be owned and maintained by the same family, which remains intent on sharing its peculiar beauty and glorious history. Protected by 600 meters of wall and 13 flanking auxiliary towers, the château transports the visitor in the footsteps of historical figures as he or she discovers and explores first its 15th-century central foyer kitchen, and then its vaulted cellars that underlay the castle and inside of which, in 1904, the astonishing Confrérie des Chevaliers du Sacavin (wine connoisseurs’ brotherhood) was enthroned. Last but not least, a walk down the surrounding footpaths and a stroll in the gardens provide an ideal view of the fortified town and the Thouet, a quiet river wending its way beneath the château.
- Free individual visits
- Guided individual tours
- Average duration of the individual visit : 1h
- Groups welcome from 25 people
- Guided group tours
- Group educational visits
- Average duration of the group visit : 1h
- Parlées : French, English
- Panneaux : French, German, English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch
- Temporary exhibitions
Children's price 6 à 14 ans
- Credit card
- Cheques and postal orders
- Holiday vouchers
Services and equipments