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It was, as they say, the massiveness of its walls (1.8 m thick) which deterred the Revolutionaries from tearing down this old stronghold of Rosières, symbol of the inequalities of the Ancien Régime. Subsequently occupied by the domain’s farmers, it has remained more or less in the same state in which it was left by the lords of Saint-Seine in the 18th century. Immerse yourself in the life of the chatelains of Rosières, vassals of the Dukes of Burgundy and then the King of France, as if they had just vacated the property …
The donjon tower remains very impressive among the farm buildings © Château de Rosières
The fief of Rosières was originally a gift from the Duke of Burgundy to the Knight Regnaud de Saint-Seine. A 1294 charter and archives dating from 1312 state that it was an agricultural domain with a “barn” and outbuildings. It was probably at the beginning of the 15th century that an impressive tower was constructed on the site to reinforce the town defences and provide shelter to the locals during this time of constant upheaval. Vestiges of fire damage to the beams and old wooden framework attest to it having been attacked at some time.
A ditch and a defence wall used to surround the building, encompassing the barn and dovecote (a seigniorial privilege). The care taken to configure the interior of the stronghold of Rosières gives the impression that certain members of the Saint-Seine family resided there at that time.
Several years after Burgundy had been annexed by the Crown, King François I decided to grant the Rosières estate and its fortified tower to his friend Claude de Foucher, for services rendered. The domain changed hands several times in the 16th and 17th centuries, owing to various sales and alliances, until Claude Bernard de Maillard and his wife Anne-Reine Mallot du Bousquet decided to modernize this fortified tower. As the defensive ditch had lost its raison d’être, the old portcullis was converted into a very tastefully decorated arcade and entrance pavilion in Italian trompe l’oeil. The plastered interior walls of the castle are painted with garlands and heraldic motifs as are the ceiling joists. Painted motifs also adorn other oak-panelled walls.
The very refined entrance pavillion, with its trompe-l’oeil paintings
Comfortable – although not furnished as lavishly as 18th century country houses once were – the site was sold many times (with appreciable capital gains) until it fell into the hands of Bénigne Legouz, lord of Saint-Seine. The old tower was finally attached to the farm domain and used as living quarters and a corn loft until it was repurchased by the Bergerot family. Since then the tower has undergone important restoration work, respecting its historical heritage as much as possible. The guest rooms, set out in its vast medieval chambers, are some of the most inspirational in France.
The most fascinating thing about Rosières is that you can stay in a genuine fortified castle which has never been unoccupied. Its spiral staircase is the same one that has been in use for 600 years, giving access to all the rooms in the tower, from the kitchen on the ground floor to the guardroom right at the top. Its (enormous) painted joists, wooden roof beams, partitions and multi-coloured ceramic tiled floors, date from the period (even if some elements come from other historic houses).
The visitor’s circuit takes you through all the rooms in the castle so you can appreciate their decoration and history for yourself. The reception room, also used as the breakfast parlour, is extremely large (11 x 10 m) for a fortified tower. The very impressive window seats encompassed all occupations where daylight was required. Enjoy the wall walk at sunset, when a golden glow accentuates the relief. It is a reminder of the tower’s defensive role, with its impressive machicolations, (plunging openings) and the vestiges of its three bartizans (turrets).
The large tower (20 x 13m) is built next to a much older, austere rectangular tower, one level of which might have been a prison. This tower used to have a pointed roof, giving it the look of a belfry, as depicted on two murals painted in the entrance pavilion.
Several period doors have a little rounded entry at their base. Have you any idea what these openings were for? Ask Mr. or Mrs. Bergerot to explain them to you.
Of the four rooms that can be reserved at Rosières, two are really medieval (the Marguerite de St. Remy suite and the Eudes IV room). A third room – smaller – is inspired by the 19th century (in the entrance gallery arcade) and the fourth (tastefully furnished in the barn opposite the tower) has an early 20th century feel to it. The furniture has been chosen with care and includes decorative features and bathroom fittings; great attention has been paid to details…
Only a few furniture pieces do not date back from the Middle-Ages in this gorgeous donjon room
To avoid any disappointment, it is worth knowing there is no television or telephone in the rooms (however, an excellent Wifi connection makes up for this – quite deliberate – oversight).
It is during breakfast (on antique-style crockery) that you will have the opportunity to meet Bertrand and Odile Bergerot. This is a moment of conviviality to be savoured as they have plenty of stories to tell about their family tower and the thousands of visitors they have seen wax lyrical over Rosières in the past 20 years.
Near to Saint-Seine-sur-Vingeanne, the medieval town of Bèze, with its very pretty river, is really worth a visit. Not to mention its olde worlde facades with their half-timbered frontages or gothic features. And then there’s its venerable Benedictine abbey, wash-house and 13th century collegiate church.
Closer by, Fontaine-Française castle, so typical of the classical style at its height, is also worth a trip. It has a landscaped park and particularly fine and harmonious Louis XV furniture.
Dijon, about an hour’s drive away, is far and away the main attraction in the region. Not to be missed – a visit to the Palace of the Dukes and States of Burgundy, which houses beautiful gothic rooms and, amongst other things, a superb Fine Arts Museum.
To fully appreciate the period atmosphere of Rosières Castle, do not hesitate to enhance your stay by reading a few books (nothing beats a good historical novel to bring old stones back to life). Listening to some period music may also be a good way to transport you back in time… A few suggestions:
Learning and understanding
Books to be devoured in situ
Period music to be enjoyed on location
Passer la nuit au cœur d'un donjon aussi massif que celui de Rosières, c'est se sentir très en sécurité. Autrefois secouée par quelques faits d'armes, la vieille demeure seigneuriale est à présent étonnamment paisible. L'endroit idéal pour déconnecter de l'agitation du quotidien et jouir de ce coin de campagne imprégné d'histoire.
Les chambres anciennes, l'escalier en colimaçon, les boiseries et autres bancs de pierre sont patinés par le passage de générations d'hommes et de femmes dont on devine qu'ils ont vécu de précieuses années de bonheur à Rosières.
Ne vous fiez pas au look un peu vieillot du site web : Bertrand et Odile Bergerot sont tout à fait à la page en matière de nouvelles technologies.
Un conseil : n'hésitez pas à leur commander un vrai repas bourguignon aux chandelles dans la grande salle du château. Émotions médiévales garanties !
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Château de Rosières
Bertrand et Odile Bergerot
Route de Rosières
+33 (0)3 80 75 96 24 (tel. + fax)
Castle’s own website
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