Château de Valençay is a residence of the d'Estampes and Talleyrand-Périgord
families in the commune of Valençay, the Indre département of France. Although
geographically it is part of the province of Berry, its architecture invites
comparison with the Renaissance châteaux of the Loire Valley, notably the
Château de Chambord. The manor was praised as "one of the most beautiful on
earth" by George Sand, who also noted that "no king has owned a more picturesque
The château, sited at the edge of a plateau that overlooks the
little Nahon river, was built on a royal scale by the d'Estampes family of
financiers over a period of some 200 years. Construction started in 1540 at the
behest of Jacques d'Estampes in place of the demolished 12th-century castle and
was not completed until the 18th century, when the south tower was added.
Relics of the 16th century include an outsized round tower at the western
corner, capped by a dome à l'impériale, and the central block in the shape of a
donjon, with a slender tower on each corner, grouped around the raking roof. Its
feigned battlements are evocative of the Middle Ages, a retrospective formula
stylistically derived from Chambord but somewhat vitiated by ample fenestration,
including characteristic Renaissance dormers.
The exterior has withstood
time and the elements remarkably well. It is clothed in classical orders: the
Doric order on the ground floor, the Ionic order on the first floor, and the
Corinthian order on the second. This was an innovative feature anticipating
French classicism. An arcaded gallery rings the courtyard. The western wing with
its Mansard roof dates from the 17th century.