A medieval town center, cobblestone lanes, a stone fortress reached by drawbridge. Sound like a scene plucked from a storybook? In fact, this is Vitre, Brittany, in northwestern France, known for a wealth of history, culture and notable houses.
Among the historically significant homes are the city’s so-called porch houses, whose extensions over the street create an arcade effect. Half-timbered residences are plentiful. Stone cottages built into hillsides can be found outside the town walls.
This Gothic-style chateau, constructed in 1860 and restored twice within the last 15 years, resembles a castle with its rotunda entry, multiple towers and witch hat turrets. Built by a family who made their fortune during the Industrial Revolution, the stately home is topped by a steep roof lined with gabled windows.
Voluminous rooms with intricately paneled ceilings give the more than 8,000 square feet of interiors a baronial atmosphere. Wainscoting, moldings, parquet flooring and fireplaces add to the elegance. French doors topped by transom windows open to Juliet balconies bringing light into such spaces as the grand living room, the formal dining room and an intimate parlor.
The bedrooms, bathrooms, facade, part of the roof, the park and a pond were tackled in the first
The 12 acres of grounds include an English-style park, a French garden, ponds and a garage. An orchard includes cherry, apricot and apple trees. Lawn and mature trees ring the house.
The bedrooms, bathrooms, facade, part of the roof, the park and a pond were tackled in the first round of renovations. More recently, the kitchen was redone and restored to its original size.
The three stories of living space, plus the basement, are served by an elevator. There are nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and eight toilets.
Although the chateau is in use these days as a private residence, in the past it has been operated as a B&B with rooms rented to guests.
The 2021 Tour de France is set to travel through Vitre, which is a railway hub and popular tourist destination. Stage Four will take riders along streets lined with 15th and 16th-century buildings in what was once the thriving center of the canvas industry.
Besides taking in Le Tour and such historic sites as the Gothic Church of Notre-Dame, visitors to Vitre can hike, bike and enjoy water sports at several nearby lakes.
The French Ministry of Culture has designated the city a ville d’art et d’histoire for its historical importance.
Paris can be reached in about two hours by high-speed train.