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As legend has it, the Château d’Ussé inspired “Sleeping Beauty”

David Goran

The Château d’Ussé is located in the commune of Rigny-Ussé in the Indre-et-Loire département, at the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre Valley, in France.

The current version of the castle was constructed in the 15th century on the site of an earlier fortress, which was built in the 11th century, but developed over time to become a jewel of Renaissance architecture, and eventually a splendid residential home.

Engraving of the Château d'Ussé

Engraving of the Château d’Ussé.

 

The original castle was built of stone and wood by the fearsome Viking warrior Gelduin I, around year 1,000 AD.

The original castle was built of stone and wood by the fearsome Viking warrior Gelduin I, around year 1,000 AD. Photo credit 

 

Aerial view of Ussé castle

Aerial view of Ussé castle. Photo credit 

The castle has changed hands several times. A certain number of defensive capabilities were included in the newer castle, but these were removed during extensive 17th-century renovations.

Louis I de Valentinay, comptroller of the royal household, modernized and embellished the residence. He demolished the north range of buildings in order to open the interior court to the spectacular view over the parterre terrace, a design ascribed to the famous landscape architect of Versailles, André Le Nôtre.

Over time, the castle lost its military role and became an elegant residence.

Over time, the castle lost its military role and became an elegant residence. Photo credit

 

The castle itself sits slightly raised above its surroundings, and is an architectural treat with its numerous circular towers, turrets and chimneys.

The castle itself sits slightly raised above its surroundings and is an architectural treat with its numerous circular towers, turrets, and chimneys. Photo credit 

 

View of the Château's towers

View of the Château’s towers. Photo credit  

 

Inner courtyard

Inner courtyard.  Photo credit

From that date on the castle has been ‘decorative’ only. The surrounding gardens are in the formal French style and meticulously maintained, and include a lovely 17th-century orangery.

In summer orange trees in caisses line the terrace parterre.

In summer orange trees in caisses line the terrace parterre. Photo credit  

 

It is said that Ussé was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.

It is said that Ussé was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Photo credit    

 

Some of the main scenes from the fairy tale are enacted In specially decorated rooms

Some of the main scenes from the fairy tale are enacted In specially decorated rooms. Photo credit  

 

Scene from Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty.

A scene from Charles Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty. Photo credit    

Château d’Ussé has received many famous guests, including Charles Perrault, the French author who invented modern fairy tales.

As legend has it, this was the castle that inspired Perrault to write the famous fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” and there is also an exhibit of costumes in the castle relating to that story.

Château d’Ussé was also one of several that inspired Walt Disney in the creation of many of the Disney Castles.