Sunday, August 3, 2014


We didn't count the steep steps up the narrow, winding staircases of the seven levels of the fanciful Pagode de Chanteloup, but they do add up to an exotic 44-meter ascension. The climb is recommended neither for the faint of heart nor for more than six people at a time. 

Erected in 1775 by the affluent Duc de Choiseul, this fabrique de jardin or architectural folie, is bordered by an ornamental lake in the form of a demi-moon. When the duke, once an all-important minister to Louis XV, lost favor with the king he was exiled from the royal court to Chanteloup. On the grounds of his magnificent château there, he built the pagoda and dedicated it to friends and supporters who surrounded him after his fall from power. 

The pagoda is all that rests of the estate. The château was entirely destroyed in the 19th century by unscrupulous real estate speculators, loosely known as the bande noire, who after the French Revolution dismantled historic domains in order to resell the buildings' materials and decorative elements. A visit to the pagoda, not far from the royal city of Amboise, is a pleasant interlude when exploring châteaux in the Loire Valley. 

une pièce d'eau:  an ornamental pond or lake

©2014 P.B. Lecron

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