On a grey September afternoon we decided to visit the Château de Beaumesnil, located in the village of Beaumesnil, Normandy, about 135 kilometres west of Paris. Cited rather grandly in our guide book as Normandy’s answer to Versailles.
From a distance it looked suitably grand but considerably smaller than Versailles. On reflection I think the reference was more about the gardens, which we didn’t get to explore due to the weather, than the Château. From the upstairs windows they looked beautiful; long sweeping avenues interspersed with a lake.
Some further research revealed this lawned area was known as a parterre and the formal flower beds were called Jardin des Quatre Saisons or the Four Seasons Garden.
Built in 1640 on the site of a medieval castle, the Château is now considered a French historic monument. Its last owner was a German bookbinder, Hans Furstenburg who purchased the property in 1938. On his death in 1982 the property passed to the Furstenburg Beaumesnil Foundation which is responsible for its upkeep.
Sadly, up close it shows signs of decay although certainly the rooms that are open to the public are light and inviting with some beautiful furnishings. In the basement there is an interesting display of bookbinding techniques reflecting the interest of its last owner.
For further information the official website is: http://www.chateaubeaumesnil.com/en