Friday, August 01, 2014

The French Château

When a friend recently gave me a copy of the book The French Château, I was ecstatic. You see, the book's author, Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery, also wrote The Finest Houses of Paris, which happens to be one of my very favorite books. I had a feeling that I would be equally as taken with The French Château, and after reading it, I can say that I am.

As the book's title suggests, The French Château profiles some of the loveliest châteaux in France, including Château Lafite, Courances, and Brécy. But rather than focus on the grand rooms of these grand houses, the book captures the intimate side of life at these châteaux. There are lush snapshots of back staircases, family dining tables, elegant bedrooms, and family memorabilia. What I found to be most striking about all of the featured châteaux is the sense of comfort and coziness (really) that they all possess, coziness that was achieved through that always-enticing blend of rich color (reds and greens especially), traditional printed fabrics (chintzes), lustrous fabrics (damasks and velvets), and comfortable upholstered-seating.  Of course, the generations-worth of family treasures also help by further adding to the lived-in feel of these houses.

Life in a château looks awfully appealing, does it not?

*The French Château is out-of-print but can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Abebooks.

Image at top: The library looking into the salon at Montgraham.

Sandy seemed to find the château at Courances quite cozy.

One of the many well-appointed bedrooms at Le Fresne.

The salon-library at Château-Lafite.

A painting of the dowager Marquise de Ganay at Courances.

Two shots of the big salon at Brécy.

The Great Hall at Courances.


  1. It's a beautiful book, about a magical world- one which few Americans get to experience. Thanks for the share Jennifer!
    I had lunch with Louise last month in WPB - she looks fabulous!
    Her new house has loads of potential, only one block off the intracoastal!

  2. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Hi Jennifer, I too have the book, "The Finest Houses of Paris" and it is one of my favorites. Thank you so much for this post, as these rooms look so warm, chic, timeless and comfortable. This is truly the way to live, isn't it??? I adore French style, as it is never out-dated. Thanks again.

  3. I'm craving "cozy" right now. And a return to this type of multi-layered living. Putting the book on my wish list. Thank you for the heads-up.

  4. Jennifer, I have both of these books and they are truly beautiful. After reading your post I will have to go back and re-aquaint myself with them. I so love your blog. Not only is it beautiful, but also informative. Thank you for your wonderful posts.

  5. Anonymous3:54 PM

    My son gave me this book some years ago and it is one of my favourites. It reads beautifully. Elisabeth's orangerie is an inspiration.

  6. Wow, oh to live in a chateau!! French style is so full of character and charm, with its rich and sumptuous upholstery and elaborate carved detailing, just perfect for such large regal rooms, where the furniture needs to have a strong visual presence to fill the space and make it feel warm and homely as well as stylish. Stunning :O)

  7. One of my all-time favourite books! It served as inspiration for the château I decorated near Paris... I have actually visited Courances on more than one occasion, and it is utterly ravishing. The gardens alone are worth a visit. I would also warmly recommend Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery's other books: The French Country House and Exclusive French Interiors. Not only are the images always beautiful, but Madame de Nicolay-Mazery is an excellent writer, and because she is not an outsider to this world and is indeed related to several of the families whose houses she portrays, she always gives us an intimate view that brings them to life. Thanks for this post, Jennifer - you had me scurrying to my bookshelves :-)