Château de Guermantes
Château de Guermantes is a Château located in northern France.
Construction and design
Construction of the Château de Guermantes in Lagny-sur-Marne, Seine et Marne, France, was undertaken by Claude Viole (died 1638), whose family had possessed the fief of "Le Chemin" since the mid sixteenth century. Paulin Pondre (1650-1723) purchased the property in 1698. He engaged Jules Hardouin-Mansart for renovations to the building, completed in 1710 (Ministère de la culture), and André Le Nôtre to lay out the garden. Pondre was receveur des finances at Lyon and had become one of the most powerful financiers of the reign of Louis XIV; he was appointed President of the Cour des Comptes in 1713. Guermantes was the scene of memorable fêtes.
Guermantes is built of brick with stone facings and quoins, in an H-plan, with projecting pavilions flanking the corps de logis, under tall sloping slate roofs and tall chimney stacks. The house stands in a large park. The front is now approached in the English manner, with a drive sweeping to the side and an unbroken expanse of lawn. On the garden front, the house stands on a terrace with steps leading down to the former parterre, which is now lawn, and the expanse of water in the formally shaped pièce d'eau, from the far end of which the château is reflected in its entirety.
The original furnishings of Guermantes have been scattered, but rooms retain their seventeenth- and eighteenth-century boiseries. The family Pondre maintained the property until 1929, by which time Marcel Proust had employed "Guermantes" for the family at the top of the French society he was describing. There has never been a duchesse de Guermantes; Proust's "château de Guermantes", unreachably beyond the limits of family walks from Combray then purchased by the Verdurins, was based on the duc de Sully's Château de Villebon, Eure-et-Loir.
Ownership by John Law
In 1719 the Scottish economist and financier John Law purchased Guermantes for 800,000 livres. He only enjoyed possession for a matter of months. When the economic bubble created by his Mississippi Scheme burst, his life came under threat and he begged Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, the Regent, for permission to leave Paris. The Regent initially only granted Law permission to retire to the Château de Guermantes, and it was there that he spent his final days in France. On the evening of 17 December 1720, Law set off from the Château de Guermantes and fled France never to return. Paulin Pondre was able to take possession once more; his family were dispossessed at the Revolution.
Use as a film location
The real Guermantes provided locations for Philippe de Broca for Cartouche (1962), the Polish director Andrzej Wajda for Danton, Miloš Forman for Amadeus (1984) and Stephen Frears for Dangerous Liaisons (1988). Guermantes is not open to the public. It lies 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Euro Disneyland.
- The property, including its small village, was renamed Guermantes for Pierre Viole (died 1667), president of the Parlement of Paris.
- "Jamais non plus nous ne pûmes pousser jusqu'au terme que j'eusse tant souhaité d'atteindre, jusqu'à Guermantes. Je savais que là résidaient des châtelains, le duc et la duchesse de Guermantes, je savais qu'ils étaient des personnages réels et actuellement existants, mais chaque fois que je pensais à eux, je me les représentais tantôt en tapisserie, comme était la comtesse de Guermantes, dans le couronnement d'Esther de notre église..."
- Gavin John Adams (2012). Letters to John Law. Newton Page. p. xxxix.
- Cinema walks: from one château to another
- Jacques Dupont, "Le Château de Guermantes"
- Ministère de la culture: details of ironwork at Guermantes
- Historique de Guermantes