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Pinch Me: A Fairytale Chateau

We got married in Chateau de Breteuil in the suburbs of Paris.  Why?  Mostly to stop our mothers from interfering (neither lives in France).  I can’t say our choice was a hardship because we had a beautiful setting, delicious food and wine and a sunshine-filled day.  I was working full-time as a lawyer at the time and so we handed our wedding planning over to professionals who just ran the whole thing.  We went to France a couple of times to do some of the fun wedding stuff — looking at venues and food and wine tasting.

breteuil
image: Chateau de Breteuil

We loved Chateau de Breteuil as soon as we saw it.  The location 35 kilometres from Paris was great and the Chateau itself was just so pretty with its mellowed stone and graceful proportions.  The Chateau was built in the early 17th century and is still the residence of the twelfth Marquis de Breteuil.

The history of a castle at Breteuil stretches back over centuries.  The first Breteuil was Seneschal (steward) to William the Conqueror and participated in the Norman conquest of England.  History for the next few hundred years was uneventful at Breteuil.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Breteuil family became active once again in high politics serving under 3 kings as ministers.

Unfortunately, Louise-Auguste de Breteuil who served under Louis XVI got involved in the Diamond Necklace Affair which was one of the big scandals involving Marie Antoinette.  In a nutshell, Marie Antoinette was supposed to have received a diamond necklace weighing 2800 carats and worth approximately 100 million dollars in today’s money.  In reality, it was a con thought of by an enterprising swindler and her husband who forged the Queen’s signature.  Unfortunately for Marie Antoinette, the public was quick to believe that she really had commissioned such an extravagant piece in a time of public hardship.

diamond necklace affair
Marie Antoinette & THE diamond necklace
image: Chateau de Breteuil

Upon the start of the French Revolution, Louis-Auguste hightailed it to Switzerland leaving behind his wife and young children.  Clearly, father of the year material.  His wife was arrested and his children were sent to live with the local locksmith who tried to install good republican values in them, including by watching the public execution of Louis XVI.  The Breteuils eventually got their chateau back.  Thanks, however, to World War II, the chateau was a wreck by the 1950’s.  The current Marquis de Breteuil opened the chateau to the public in 1969 in order to finance its ongoing restoration and upkeep.

The gardens are extensive.  The French garden are beautifully laid out having been designed by early 20th century French landscape architects.  The rear of the chateau has a majestic reflecting lake.

There is also an English garden, a maze, orchards, a children’s playground and woodland, all set over 300 acres.  Also contained in the outbuildings are wax figures depicting some of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  Charles had worked for Louis de Breteuil when he was finance minister for Louis XIV.

We had our wedding in the Orangerie, and a cocktail reception in the gardens.  While Mr. N and I were taking photos, the guests were lead on tours of the house.  We all settled into the Great Hall for dinner and dancing.

The setting could not have been more magical – definitely a pinch me – ‘can’t believe I’m getting married in such beautiful surroundings’ moment.

The Chateau de Breteuil is open to visitors from 2:30-5:30 every day for guided tours.  More information on visiting Breteuil may be found on their website.  Here’s a video (in French) of Breteuil.

This post is part of the Pinch Me travel moments linkup run by Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes.

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Shobha

I am an American expat based in London with my travel-loving family. I write at Just Go Places Blog about luxury, cultural and family travel.

4 thoughts on “Pinch Me: A Fairytale Chateau”

  1. hello, beautiful post. I am wondering if you could share some inspirations with me as I am planning my wedding at the same chateau! Currently looking for a wedding planner too so wondered if you can let me know who you used?

    1. OMG. We got married 13 years ago – I don’t remember that many details. We used an English wedding planner, Liz Sexton, from Stress Free Day and they were terrific. They took care of everything because my now-husband and I were working night and day at our jobs. Typical we had major transactions on the few months beforehand. I remember the food and wine was terrific (locally-sourced). The cake was brought from the UK because we didn’t want a croquembouche.

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