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The playful spirit of the Anjony Château

by catherine levesque

Mobilier-et-fresques-du-Château-d\'Anjony©P.Soissons.jpg

Impossible to remain indifferent to its elegant form, a visitor would feel as though towering pepper grinders made from stone have risen right out of the green pastures. Even though he was born five centuries after the Château d’Anjony, Jean Chanaux is as much a part of the fortress as the furniture. The castle stands vigil over the historical site of the village of Tournemire.

Here for the last quarter century he has climbed 150 steps at each visit, four a day from 15 February to 15 November. Visibly proud of his work, Jean, which we will later find out, reveals his true nature to us just as much as the vast rooms without any hesitation, always with a joke on standby. When a telephone rings during the visit, Jean calls out "It’s Joan of Arc who’s sending you a sign!"

 

A remarlable
interior

Once we have made our way into the lower room, we are struck by the warmth of the interior, which is in stark contrast with the austere shell of the medieval castle. In the chimney, Jean points out two arrowslits which allowed for looking out for approaching enemies and reminds us, never short of anecdotes, the struggle against the English. "A glass of Cahors wine, there’s an Englishman outside!" In the adjoining tower, we are astonished to find ourselves in a small chapel completely decorated with frescos from the 16th Century, and also houses a skillfully sculpted black Virgin statue.

Covered with frescos from the same period, the Salle des Preux presents an even more spectacular site. Our eyes, albeit drawn to many sights in this place, come to rest upon a rare traveler’s chest dresser decorated in gold leaf and encrusted in ivory.

A pass through the armory room and then we begin the climb up into the dungeon tower. We are now 40 meters up and the machicolations offer beautiful views of the valley.

Château d\'Anjony©P. Soissons.jpg

"This castle was built for military purposes but was never used as such", concludes Jean, while gauging as if for the first time the thickness of the walls and the strength of the rafters. We then go back down the spiral staircase, as if we ourselves are now masters of this house.

 

A family history
at the Château d’Anjony

 

"It was Robert III who we are interviewing now", jokes Jean Chanaux, castle guide at the Château d’Anjony for more than a quarter centuy. He is otherwise known as the marquis de Léontoing d'Anjony, the 19th generation to inhabit these walls.

"We live in the part added in the 17th Century," explains the castle owner, quick to tell the long history of his family. "Our origins trace back to the end of the 19th Century. My ancestors were Aurillac bourgeoisie who made their fortune in fur and leathers, which would then lead to the purchase of the land on which the castle would later be built, acquired thanks to an alliance with the Tournemire family. My family would then go on to serve the king with a company of men-at-arms. Louis d’Anjony, nicknamed 'Loynot' by the king, was a companion of Joan of Arc and was made noble. He was the one that had the medieval part of the castle built, which closely resembles the dungeon of Vincennes. Things went south when he wanted to become Lord of Tournemire. The families would quarrel for two centuries to follow."

Despite the difficulties suffered by the Anjony family during the Revolution of 1789, the castle remained untouched, just like the quality of Jean’s storytelling, who skillfully brings back to life the past of these walls’ inhabitants.

 

anjony.fr

 

Other châteaux to visit:
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