A Letter From Burgundy

September 19, 2016

Chateau de Germolles – Journees Europeennes du Patrimoine

Each weekend in September France has a Heritage weekend. Many monuments and sites that are normally closed are open for the weekend and other places which are normally open to the public have reduced fees of entry or are free.

This year we went to Chateau de Germolles near Mellecey. It is the best preserved residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. It was built during the second part of the 14th century although there had been a fortress there since the 13th century. Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, bought the chateau from local feudal Lords and gave it to his wife, Margaret of Flanders. The only remains today of the original fortress are the lower chapel and the wine cellar.

Plaque at the Entrance Gate

Ten years of transformations took place – the Duchess wanted a country estate rather than a fortress and the best architects, sculptors and painters of the time were employed. Large rose gardens were planted and sheep and other animals were farmed.

Goats where sheep once roamed

Former stables?

Former stables?

After Philip and Margaret the Chateau belonged to a further three Dukes of Burgundy – John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold. After the death of Charles the ownership passed to the King of France. After the French Revolution it became the property of the Nation.

Parts of the chateau have been lost over time, mainly due to lack of maintenance but at the end of the 19th century it was purchased by a family who still own it today and repair works have been carried out.

The chateau today still has a large collection of medieval floor tiles which are decorated with motifs that were the symbols of the Dukes – roses, thistles, sheep and fleur – de – lis.

Rare wall paintings can still be seen today which date from the Middle Ages – motifs of “P” and “M”, initials of the Duke and Duchess over the walls along with thistles, the personal emblem of Margaret Flanders.

If you are interested in the history of Burgundy this Chateau is well worth visiting. We were not allowed to take interior photos showing the famous wall paintings as great care is taken with light exposure etc to preserve the paintings for future generations.