"Balleroy" Balleroy by ranger49
Balleroy Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 24 photos
We had spent a week visiting WW cemeteries, museums and the D-Day Landings Beaches and felt ready for a change of scene.
The Château de Balleroy sounded as though it might provide the right kind of contrast so we headed there one afternoon after lunch.
As soon as we arrived in the centre of the village, which approximates a circle rather than a square, we were struck by the grand architecture of the village houses all along the main street.
There were quite a few properties around the centre for sale and boarded up -including some shops. The village had a cold feel to it as though few people lived there in spite of all the parked cars!.
We may, of course, have arrived at that time of day when many French villages appear to be abandoned. In the morning or late afternoon it might reflect a livelier community, though when we left at 5.30 and the boulangerie had opened there was nobody else about.
Turning to look behind us we could see the long avenue of trees leading to the Chateau, its splendid entrance gates with a knot garden in front of the chateau and landscaped woodlands and gardens beyond.
It was apparent that the layout of village and chateau were all of a piece, visually presenting in almost conjoined symmetry the residence of the Lord of the Manor and the homes of the villagers.
The scheme was designed by Francois Mansart ( he of the Mansard roof and windows) and was one of his earliest works completed in 1631 when he was only 33 years old. It was commissioned by Jean de Choisy.
The Chateau apparently escaped damage during the 1944 invasion inspite of its proximity to the Beaches. But it remained unoccupied for several years unitl it was bought in 1971 by the American media tycoon Malcolm S. Forbes who renovated it and opened a Museum of air balloons in the old stables.
Another eerie moment or two - as we walked down the drive to the shop and ticket office - we were the only visitors and were asked to wait until enough people arrived to join the next tour. In the event nobody did - so we had a personal tour with a young woman who insisted on speaking in English “to practise “.
She was an excellent guide full of unusual bits of information and very knowledgeable about the amazing art works in the Forbes collection. I wasn’t too interested in the photographs of the “Celebrities” who had visited from US Presidents to famous film stars but I’m sure our guide took us into rooms not normally included on the tour simply because there were only two of us. She certainly made this an interesting and worthwhile visit but we decided to give the air balloons a miss this time..
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