43 Grande Rue - 37460 MONTRESOR, FRANCE Tél. +33 (0)2 47 92 70 71
According to a colourful legend, the young King Gontran, son of Clotaire and grandson of Clovis, fell asleep beside a murmuring stream when he dreamt of a treasure hidden in a grotto. His squire saw a lizard scurrying across his face and running towards the nearby hillside from which it returned glowing like gold. Informed about this vision, the king quickly organized a search of the hillside and found its vast hidden wealth.
History is closely linked to the local monuments hereabouts.
Some Gallo-Roman vestiges and Roman steam baths have been unearthed in the Valley, testifying to the fact that Montrésor was inhabited in early times.
Records show that Montrésor had its first feudal lord in 887. At the start of the 11th century, Foulques Nerra (an avid builder and conqueror) asked his captain Roger, “The Little Devil”, to build a fortress on top of the rocky promontory overlooking the Indrois Valley in order to prevent access to the plateau. A double enclosure wall surrounding the keep is still apparent. The massive corner towers and the 12th century gate towers remain impressive because of their powerful feudal architecture designed for defensive purposes. At the base of the castle, along the Indrois, a picturesque village developed. It was initially attached to the Beaumont-Village parish, but it became an independent parish in 1700.
In 1493, when the castellany passed into the hands of the Bastarnay family, Montrésor was to become the crossroads of all that was distinguished and attractive at the close of the 15th century; this was due to Ymbert de Bastarnay – “Lord of the Bouchage” – who was a faithful counselor and confidant of four of our kings of France: Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I. Ymbert had a fine residence built within the fortress walls and he also founded the collegiate church. This castle is therefore a charming peacetime residence surrounded by the original feudal defence system.
When Ymbert’s last descendants died in 1621, the castle was sold to Henri de Bourdeilles and then at the end of the 17th century, to Paul de Beauvilliers. It remained the property of the Beauvilliers family for over a century, until 1831.
It was in 1849 that Count Xavier Branicki, a Polish gentleman who developed a friendship with Napoléon III, acquired the château. Army officer, politician and financier, he was one of the founders of the Crédit Foncier de France bank in 1852. A noteworthy art collector and patron, the count decorated the château with many valuable pieces of furniture, paintings and art objects. He was also the one who donated paintings to the collegiate church that had originally been part of the collection of Cardinal Fesch, the uncle of Napoléon I.
The castle still belongs to the descendants of Count Branicki today.