11 May 2010

Chateau de Montgeoffroy: Same As It Ever Was

 
 
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Chateau Montgeoffroy in the Loire Valley.   The central building was built in the 18th century in between the 16th century wings with rounded turrets.   The moat and chapel are also from the 16th century. 

 

Of all the 300 magnificent chateaus in the famous Loire Region in France, Chateau de Montgeoffroy, one of the last to be built,  is considered one of the finest.   The region surrounding the Loire, France’s longest river,  is known as the Valley of the Kings, or the Royal River,  because so many French royals and noblemen built houses among the vineyards and gently rolling lands that make up the fertile landscape.   Many of these chateaux were built on older sites dating from medieval times and even further back, on the fortress ruins of Neolithic sites.    Most were built using the white limestone (Pierre de Loire) found in the region, giving a certain unified appearance to the graceful and elegant chateaux.   Today, many of the chateaux are private homes, while some are museums and some are active vineyards.  What sets Montgeoffroy apart from other Loire chateaux is simple – it has remained the same as it was when it was built.  A time capsule of sorts, it provides a glimpse into everyday life among the privileged few right before the outbreak of the Revolution.    Montgeoffroy was one of the few chateaux to escape destruction during those violent times of Marie Antoinette.   Nothing of Chateau Montgeoffroy has changed through the centuries  - all the furniture and household goods that were listed on inventories taken before the Revolution remain  in the house today.  The catalogued archives are proof of this.   Every piece of furniture, painting and accessory remains in the house as it did when the chateaux was first designed.   Even the kitchen retains its original 260 copper pots, which look remarkably in vogue today.   Even more amazing, the same family still owns the chateau.       Thus, a visit to Montgeoffroy is witness to the most beautiful period in design – the 18th century.     Time truly stands still at Montgeoffroy.  

The chateau, located in Maze, as it is today, was built in the 18th century between 1772 and 1775, but its history dates back several centuries before that.     The two distinctive round towers of the chateau, the moat and the chapel actually date back to 1543.  The main large, central portion was designed by Nicolas Barre for Erasme de Contades who was the commander of the German army during the Sevens Years War.   The Marquis had several mistresses which he kept in secret rooms he had built in the chateau.  One apartment even had a spiral staircase that led to the mistress’s handmaiden’s room.    All this of course, is what life was like in the 18th century for the privileged class.    Chateau de Montgeoffroy is considered a masterpiece of the 18th century French architecture.   For lucky Francophiles, the family opens part of the chateau to visitors each summer.

This month, the French magazine Art and Decoration, published several gorgeous photographs of Montgeoffroy.   Taking photographs of the interiors during tours must not be   allowed, as none show up in Flickr or Picasa.   Additionally, there are very few published photographs of the chateau, so these pictures from Art and Decoration are all the more valuable.   It is amazing to look at these interiors which haven’t changed for centuries and see how current certain parts look.   Luckily the few  old photographs of the chateau exist to compare then and now.   As it is often said, the best way to keep an interior from quickly dating  is to use French antiques.  Montgeoffroy certainly proves that theory. 

Enjoy!!!!

 


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An aerial view of Montgeoffroy showing the long gravel drive and stables off the left.   Notice the two guard houses at the corners of the front property.

 

 

 

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Portrait of Erasme de Contades,dressed for battle,  who commissioned Montgeoffroy.  This painting hangs in the Grand Salon today. 

 

 

 

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The gates that stand at the end of the long drive.  

 

 

 

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A rare early postcard of the chateau.  

 

 

 

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As it looks today, here you can see the wonderful shutters and Versailles planters.   Notice how the center front doors and the end doors are arched.  And notice too, the dormers, the Oeil de boeuf windows that are often removed from buildings and sold in antique stores.  The creamy limestone blocks are so gorgeous!!!  

     
 

 imageFrom Art and Decoration, the butler’s pantry, overlooking the front courtyard, with its marble floor and sink.  What a sink!!!   The enfilade on the right is like those seen in fine antique stores.   Remember,  everything is like it was during the 18th century!  

 

 

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From Art and Decoration – the Grand Salon with its Versailles parquet floor.    The article is written in French, so it was hard to follow, but apparently, the family has recently refreshed the upholstery – many of which originally came from Braquenie, now owned by Pierre Frey.     I adore these Louis XV chairs with their painted finishes.  Notice the console between the windows – painted gray, like the boiserie, so trendy!     The lantern is to die for.  

 

 

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A close up of the beautiful chairs, with their graceful, curving lines.  The bottom cushions are plump, filled with down.  The fabric is attached to the frame with today’s hot nail heads. 

 

 

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I love this painted console – I have seen these in so many antique stores, just not quite as ornate or pretty!!    Notice the carved urn on the stretcher – divine!

 

 

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A close up of the French door, showing its age.   Notice how you can see the limestone facade, then the exterior shutter, along with an interior shutter.  The hardware shows centuries of use.  

 

 

 

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A rare photograph of the Grand Salon from years gone by.  Notice how nothing much has changed.  The painted console remains between the two French doors.  The same lantern is hanging.   This view of the salon is of the other side than shown in the magazine Art and Decoration.   

 

 

 

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In an older photograph from a book, here  you can see how the room is shown with two different sets of chairs.   Notice the clocks or barometers flanking the doorway!   Beautiful.  The lantern remains, as does the backgammon table.    The fabric looks changed here from above and from today. 

 

 

 

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In another set of early pictures, the yellow chairs appear in a striped fabric.  The same small end tables are seen here.   Here is the portrait of the original owner.   The sconces remain, but the mantelscape is a bit different

 

 

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The Grand Salon:  The other side of the room with the backgammon table.   This looks remarkably like the earlier postcard shown earlier. 

 

 

 

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Art and Decoration:  the dining room with its raspberry colored table cloth.   Another beautiful lantern.   Notice the urn in relief above the door.   It reminds me of an antique fragment I bought a few years ago.   The curtains are Braquenie  - Grand Corail.

 

 

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Braquenie fabric on curtains – Grand Corail.

 

 

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Past the dining room is another room, with another game table.   These chairs appear to wear the same fabric as seen in the older pictures.  The chest to the right of the table is like ones seen in antique stores time and time again. 

 

 

 

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The beautiful, graceful iron staircase with stone tread and risers.    Perfection!

 

 

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Part of the kitchen area, notice how current the hanging arrangement of horns look!    Beautiful tall buffet.  

 

 

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Another view of the same room, showing the large fireplace.  

 

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Art and Decoration:  a view of the kitchen with its famous collection of copper pots.  

 

 

 

    image Found in a book – it’s the same view as above, just wider.  This larger view shows more of the incredible copper pot collection.

 

 

 

 

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Art and Decoration:  it appears fresh fabric recently went up in the bedrooms, courtesy of Braquenie. 

 

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This room is done in the beautiful Anet by Pierre Frey’s Braquenie. 

 

 

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This bedroom has a beautiful gray painted French bed.  Notice the adorable fringe trimmed end table. Again, the French style, one fabric covers everything in the bedroom.   

 

 

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Its fabric shows 18th century flower vases and angels.   Pierre Frey sells this fabric called Aix de Provence.

 

 

 

image A third bedroom is in crisp plaid – one fabric covers everything in the room, including the walls.  Notice the small vanity chair – so feminine!!!

 

 

 

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Beauvoir – from Pierre Frey’s Braquenie.

 

 

 

imageThis photo from the Braquenie web site shows a damask named for Chateau Montgeoffroy.  This looks like it was taken in the chateau – the bed and chair are so familiar to others seen in Montgeoffroy.

 

 

 

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An old photograph from a book shows another room with French chairs covered in tapestry fabric.   The desk is an incredible antique.   Notice in this room the floor is not in the Versailles pattern, nor do the walls have full molding.   Those details must have been saved for the Grand Salon only.

 

 

 

image Art and Decoration:   the empty stables and horse drawn carriages, left over from another generation.  

 

 

 

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Finally, looking again at the Grand Salon in Montgeoffroy – it reminded me of another beautiful French chateau:

 

 

 

image Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon in Versailles.  Though Montgeoffroy is not quite as opulent, it’s a close second.  I love how all the chairs and settees are painted gray – today, this is so trendy and in vogue.

 

 

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And this carving, above the door in the dining room, reminds me of a wood fragment I bought in Austin a few years ago:

 

 

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The fragment is above the cabinet in the dining room.  Though not exactly the same, I can imagine that my fragment once was lived above a doorway in France somewhere……..!

 

Unfortunately, there is no web site for Chateau Montgeoffroy, but if you google it, there is plenty of information from travel agencies regarding dates the house is open to the public.   Let me know if you go, or have gone!!!!

56 comments:

  1. I forget how beautiful French Chateaux truly are. As a young girl, I decided that i would be a "Chateleine" a woman who owns a chateaux... well I own and live in a stable (see post)...but still enjoys visiting or being a guest in a chateaux. i love staying in Relais et Chateaux while traveling through France, it gives such a wonderful lasting impression of times gone by...

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  2. Its all just breathtaking. Who wouldn't covet all of that copper? And are those Sevres figurines in white on the dining table?
    I think I will need to look/read again just to soak it all in.

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  3. When I see a Chateau, I immediately think "Oh - Joni would love this one!"
    pve

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  4. I am going to the Loire Valley for 3 weeks this summer on a home exchange! I am thrilled that you posted this Chateau and can not wait to visit it! The butler pantry alone!!!

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  5. As usual a master of a post- thanks for all your research - great read!

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  6. Forgot to mention the "Talking Heads" title- "Same as it ever was" Loved it!

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  7. Thanks for the great post. Of course I love a great Chateau!

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  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour! Incredible. Would love to see it with my own eyes one of these day. Thanks!

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  9. oh i would love that marble sink and a few of those old copper pans will do just fine too. The French really do have it when it comes to style. Great post Joni.
    Hayley

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  10. How amazing some of those pictures are. I love the old stable! Thanks for the walk through!

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  11. This is just beautiful. Truly, a whole different world that is for sure. I've been dying to go back to France. You may have just pushed me to do it. Hope you are well, Joni.

    G

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  12. Thanks Joni;
    This is one Chateau that I did not know of. I love the old stables and the antlers lines up along the wall.
    So right, a generation ago.
    L

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  13. The limestone is timeless- such a classic look- a life lived there would be of a fairy tale.

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  14. I think I will spend the better part of today thinking about this place and those yellow chairs in particular. Upholstered beautifully. Something about the stairs is off to me? Beautiful and definitely interesting but the shape and the rail seem to be of a different era. 'd love to hear from someone re: the period appropriateness...thoughts anyone?

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  15. Heavenly Joni, thank you. Love everything from the ciel de lit to the finial balls in the stables...and love your new gray in your dining room! Trish

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  16. What a feast for the eyes! I love the formal spaces, but the kitchen and the stables have that rustic, aged look and feel that I love in French country. But the copper collection!!! Be still my heart! A lovely post, Joni, as always.

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  17. Yey! Yea! Not only do I LOVE "the tour" but even more I indulged in the validation I just received for my new bedroom color scheme. The gray walls, spun gold (room jewelry) and splashes of raspberry. That excitement was only tempered by the glorious yellow fabric that was actually a second place color choice of mine (made me "rethink" for a split second). I look forward everyday to your blog...I graciously thank you!

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  18. Oh Joni,
    I so enjoyed this post! I had seen some images in Art & Décoration yet! Chateaux are always a good inspiration for my work. I love to see mouldings and paneling as inspiration for my design!
    Thank you for the work you did on this post!
    xx
    Greet

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  19. oh wow, I do wish I could visit (or live) there! Love the fabrics they have used too... gorgeous residence!

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  20. Wow talk about a classic! I have always loved French style and furniture...seeing this chateau is like an exclmation point for me.
    Thank you Joni for the wonderful post.

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  21. I could daydream about this chateau all day. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  22. Thank you so much for that tour! It's fun to daydream, no?

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  23. Thank you, Joni, for this wonderful tour. Since I don't think I'll be making a visit to Montgeoffroy any time soon, I appreciate your fascinating post even more. I love your architectural fragment.

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  24. Thank you for taking us on this breathtaking tour. How gracious and inspiring this chateaux is.

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  25. Joni -
    Many thanks for the perfect stroll to start my day ....
    Jjj

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  26. What a wonderful tour guide you are! As I was reading and greedily looking at each detail, I thought, "this reminds me of Le Petit Trianon" - then came your own comparison. The photo of the staircase was what clinched it for me. Graceful and elegant.
    Something else to add to my next list of things to see in France.
    merci beaucoup!

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  27. Joni, first of all, I love your fragment above your hutch. It's just wonderful!

    There are so many things to comment on with this post, but one thing that stood out to me is the amazing ballustrade of that staircase. Is it iron? I love it!

    And I love the yellow floral draperies against the grey walls. Stunning. I forget how much I like that color combo till I see it somewhere.

    The last shot of the drawing room/music room with the harp... love the red of the drapes in there, and like you, I like the grey of the wood. I prefer that to gold in most cases. This house, though, is absolutely amazing in every way. Thank you for once again sharing another amazing edifice with us. This is a favorite, for sure!

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  28. I just had another look around, and then I noticed that I said "amazing" twice in that last paragraph. While it is amazing, my headache is obviously playing havoc with my writing ability.

    Just wanted to say, even the stables are stunning. Oh, to be a horse at that house! :-)

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  29. Thank you for another fabulous post, Joni! I have not visited Montgeoffroy; as opposed to the cavernous Chambord, the more "intimate" ones like Montgeoffroy and Chenonceau are so wonderful, giving you a sense of life as it was, as you say; the copper pot collection is a wonder!

    I am so glad too that you gave some info on the Braquenie fabrics; I don't know if the "matchy" look works as well here, but it sure does work in France! I have long loved Grand Corail and want to use Braquenie when I get around to redoing two of our bedrooms in Beaune.

    Next month I am going to a wedding at the XVth C Chateau de Detilly in the Loire; http://chateaudedetilly.com/ and your post has really put me in the mood for the trip!

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  30. Your blog is astonishing. You bring us all so much that would never enter our lives if it weren't for the breadth and scope of your endeavors.

    Thank you not only for the pictures but also for the dialog. I often feel as though we are neighbors chatting about our personal interests.

    I visit your bog every day and am rewarded even when there is no new information because I know you are there scrambling around for the beautiful. Ann

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  31. Hi Joni!

    Wow! I want the butler's pantry, the front gate, the staircase and every chair in the chateau. I don't want much, do I?!

    Thank you for yet another beautiful and informative post!

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  32. Joni, this is amazing and thank you for such a wonderful tour. You would make a wonderful tour guide,you show all the little details and points of interest. I loved the kitchen, I have never seen such a beautiful array of fine copper cookware, amazing, Kathysue

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  33. Joni, I think I've visited that chateau. I spent a week in the Loire Valley touring all the chateau's. It's been 10 yrs. ago, but I still have some incredible memories. My favorite of your post - the copper pots!!

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  34. First of all...for a split second I thought *your* dining room was part of the chateau, it's beautiful! Second of all...Oh-My-Goodness...the post is amazing and such a delightful surprise, I never know what I'm going to see when visiting you...Bravo!
    xo Jessica~

    (I hear France calling...)

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  35. What fabulous pictures! And those copper pots!! That picture had me salivating for that kitchen.

    Thank you for such detailed pictures and information.

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  36. oh so beautiful...I think my favorite is the grand salon, with the plump Louis XV chairs and the updated nailheads. Such lovelies to look at.
    xx

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  37. Hubby and I visited this chateau about 10 years ago. It is magnificient. We were only allowed to view certain rooms and the kitchen was excluded from the tour. Looking at the pictures of the kitchen, and all the copper pots, makes me really wish we could have seen that room.

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  38. I came back to look at your post again, Joni, and I love the fabric called, "Grand Corail". Oh, how wonderful that is! Every time I think you've posted my favorite post, you surprise us with something equally wonderful. I have a feeling I am going to be looking at this one again and again. I want to study the rooms. Thanks again...

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  39. Nice Post Joni, and great to see French decor the traditional way...The colors are terriffic and wouldn't it be nice to have huge guilded pictures on your ancestors for the walls? Love the carriage house and that room with the lavender walls..The fabrics are so appropriate for that place.... Maryanne xo

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  40. OMG...that door off the kitchen makes me want to pull a "Under the Tuscan Sun"...sell everything and move.

    I simply love the detail you put into your posts...thanks Joni!

    Best,
    Michelle

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  41. BEAUTIFUL! My husband and I took a bike trip through the Loire Valley when we were first married. This brought me right back.

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  42. All I need to do is take one of those Fear of Flying courses and I'm good to go! What a fantastic place to daydream about.

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  43. You are my new BEST FRIEND, we just haven't met yet!!! I have a question if you have time to answer. Where would be the best place to buy a ready made Seagrass or Sisel rug?
    I have look at them on line at Potter Barn, Renovation Hardware and Ballard Design. Thanks, Debbie

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  44. Thank you so much!!! I'm going save all of these photos to refresh my soul with the "real thing".. it is incredible that everything has remained the same and that the chateau continues in the same family. What sense of place. Joni, your dining room does fit right in with the chateau--just a smaller scale. Once again, many thanks.

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  45. I can't help it--need to post again...thank you, thank you, thank you. Mary

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  46. Fabulous post as usual! Whats your take on the shakeups with HB, T&C, and Veranda?(Sorry to change the subject but thought of you first when I read the news.) I'm still not over Southern Accents being gone! Thanks for all your hard work- love love love this blog!

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  47. That is absolutely magnificent.
    I'm so glad you posted it that I had a chance to see it's magnificent beauty. Thanks!

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  48. MAGNIFICENTLY done!!! just breathtaking,love your blog!

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  49. I haven't bought art et Decoration , this month , I'm going to run to buy it.
    This Chateau is breathtaking and the way they used Braquenié's collection is divine . I love to sell documents and Braqueniés are ones of my favorites.Thanks for the inspiration

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  50. Wow...so many beautiful rooms! I'd never heard of this place. Great post, Joni! Love the fragment above your hutch. Wouldn't it be nice if it could talk...the stories it might tell. :-)

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  51. What a fabulous tour. This one must have taken at least three trips to Starbucks!! Gorgeous, the Cuisine with all that copper alone makes me drool.

    Would love to visit this Chateau in person. Thanks, Joni, you always give us such a treat. xoxo Lidy

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  52. Another perfect example of classic design that will never go out of style.

    The delightful Andrea has generously donated a basket as a giveaway on my blog. One offering might just be your favorite. Stop by.

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  53. What amazing architecture - and so many really beautiful fabrics!

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  54. I enjoyed visiting this beautiful chateau on your blog.

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  55. I enjoyed your article on Montgeoffroi. Best by far on the internet. I hope you will be able to visit us during your next trip to New York. You will see many beautiful French things on the cote de l'Hudson.

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