Located between Auxerre and Dijon on the Burgundy canal, near Chablis, Château d'Ancy-le-Franc is an idyllic place for lovers of history, art and beautiful stonework - and for a family outing
A brief history
Burgundy’s Italian Renaissance palace is the masterpiece of Serlio, Italian architect to King François I. Built in the heart of a vast park for Antoine III de Clermont, brother-in-law of Diane de Poitiers, Ancy-le-Franc is, due to its highly original composition, unprecedented in both Italy and France. It houses one of the largest collections of mural paintings currently preserved in France (16th and 17th century). Works by Italian grand masters from the Fontainebleau School. Elegant sculpted courtyard, richly decorated apartments, ornate galleries with their grotesque decoration, mythological, religious and battle scenes, rooms, offices, chapel, coffered ceilings, marble floors ... A real journey through five centuries of history.
The Marquis de Louvois, War Minister to Louis XIV, acquired the château in the late 17th century, and would make its his own Versailles, with the construction of the staff quarters and the orangery and the creation of a vast French-style garden, the latter signed off by Le Nôtre.
A unique architecture
Château d’Ancy-le-Franc is not a former stronghold transformed into a Renaissance palace. It was instead built in the 16th century, according to plans by the famous architect to King François I, the Italian Serlio, THE benchmark in Renaissance architecture in the entire world. The residence was built to a perfectly square plan, and the symmetry and refinement of the courtyard with its sculptures, arches and niches overwhelm the visitor the moment they arrive.
Several kings of France came to Ancy le Franc: Henri IV, Louis XIV, Louis XIII...
Did you know…?
The palace houses an exceptional collection of murals, ranked one of the most important in France currently preserved from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The château’s curator, in the service of King François I and then his son Henri II, was a great lover and patron of art. He would invite the great Italian and Flemish masters from the Fontainebleau School to carry out the decoration of the apartments (Primaticcio, Nicolo dell'Abbate, Nicolas de Hoey...). The density and variety of the decor is sure to impress! You’ll see mythological, religious and battle scenes, grotesque decoration and medallions, coffered ceilings, wooden and other unusual polychrome flooring...
Madam Marquise de Sévigné spoke in her letters of Ancy le Franc as a French building "in costume italiano".
A real journey through 5 centuries
More than 5 apartments, 3 galleries, a chapel, guard room, bedrooms, offices and lounges can be visited (the King's Chamber, the Flower Chamber, Art Chamber, Judith’s Chamber, the Office of Pastor Fido, the Gallery of Medea...). The Pharsalia Gallery, one of the masterpieces of the piano nobile, is everyone’s favourite: the impressive ochre cameo 32 metres long, representing a famous battle from antiquity. Such representation is unique in France (recently restored in its full length).
Since 2014, part of the ground floor is also open to visitors. Definitely don’t miss Diane's apartment with the famous Diane chamber with its breathtaking decor.
Cultural events at Château d’Ancy-le-Franc
Art exhibitions, classical concert tours, night visits, wine and antiques fairs are on the programme during the season.
Renaissance costumes & games are available for children during the visit.
Château d'Ancy-le-Franc is open to the public for unaccompanied, guided and audio-guided tours. You can visit the interior on its own or in combination with the garden and 50-hectare park.
Besides the château, the estate includes large stables and formal flower gardens, an orangery, French and English-style gardens with a "Folly" (18th century), pond and streams, small paths and bridges, centuries-old trees, a paddock, pyramid ... A nice place for a walk after visiting the château.
The château also accommodates groups all year by reservation.
A heritage hot-spot that’s well worth a visit!