About Le Château de Fleury-en-Bière
Origins and history of the castle
« Un monument ancien est un livre sur lequel chaque génération a écrit une page. Il ne faut altérer aucune de ces pages. » Anatole France
Means : “An old monument is like a book on which each generation has written a page. None of the pages should be altered”.
1910, Fleury-en-Bière : the collector, Martine de Béhague, buys the de Fleury estate which at the time, is a composite ensemble due to the succession of different constructions that had been made over the course of time.
The story starts in 1550, the year when Côme Clausse, already owner of Courances, buys the de Fleury grounds and builds “a communal area symmetrically surrounding a big front courtyard, part of the castle, its medieval tower and dwelling, plus the main wing on the right side”. The works were conducted by head builder Gilles le Breton, executing the plans of Pierre Lescot, the architect of Louvre at that time.
The castle remained unfinished and uncompleted without a left wing for over two hundred years.
In 1770, the works of extension were started by Charles Dufresnoy following the architectural designs of Jean-Baptiste Chaussard : “(…) the main dwelling was then doubled in length and refurbished. Chaussard chose to pastiche the original facades in stone and brick, reproducing on the garden side a round tower on the side so as to make an annex to the old dwelling. On the other hand, he reinforced the axis of the configuration by endowing the facades in the courtyard and in the garden with a projection crowning a pediment: finally, he lowered the attic of the dwelling and on the court side, he changed the wodden beam floor lighted by skylights into a square shaped room.”
Although heterogenous in its plans, the architectural style, as a whole, is quite homogenous as the stone and bricks unify the different facades.
When Martine de Béhague acquires the estate, she too decides to refurbish the edifice but more for the sake of esthetics than for structural reasons:
“Fleury kept its asymmetry with just the one wing. In that, it broke with the detestable habits of architects-restorers of the time to regularize old structures. All efforts were put on the main logis, where the top level areas where changed. (…) On the court side, Rahir (ndlr : Martine de Behague’s architect) dismanteled the 18th century square second floor, transforming the bays to skylights, similar to those of the right wing. This was closer to the spirit of the Renaissance architecture. At the same time, the attic was completely reconstructed with two slopes “à la française”, and with a more imposing finish. The high chimney stacks that were installed completed the metamorphosis. It gave a real impetus to the whole. (…) Philosophically, Martine de Béhague had chosen to bring the façade closer in style to the period of the wing and the communes. But not wanting to negate the work of de Chaussard she kept the immense pediment.
The layout of the flowerbeds facing the castle were also Martine de Béhague’s doing. She renovated the terraces that had disappeared over the course of time as well as the big pond further down. It was fully completed in the thirties following a drawing by René-Edouart André, so as to spare an anamorphosis : from the castles’ façade, the pond seems to be leaning into the last terrace, an illusion making the lawn disappear in front and making the pond seem bigger.
(…) The remaining décor where they altered, incomplete? In any case, Martin de Béhague had them redone. She had become the owner of the most beautiful ruins of Château de Vitry-sur-Seine, stupidly destructed in 1911. She brought to Fleury several salons with wood paneling and above all a grand central staircase with wrought iron handrailing, that Rahir, placed in the center of the castle. Thus, instead of the layouts “in fashion” so often in those days, she preferred saving authentic elements, which found, thanks to her excellent taste, a second life in a worthy setting.”
Source : Une restauration exemplaire : Fleury-en-Bière by Alexandre Gady.
Restauration of la Poterne
It is on the road that goes from Courances to Fontainebleau that is located the magnificent estate of Fleury-en-Bière surrounded by huge walls of stone and brick, in keeping with the style of the castle and its annexes. Then suddenly, a small house can be seen overlooking the imposing arched dark wooden door leading to Château de Fleury. This house known as “La Poterne”, is the only spot where one can have an overall view of the castle. It is, in fact, the former guard house who, from the platform could supervise easily the comings and goings of everyone.
It is said that one night in 1626, a dinner was organized at Château de Fleury to which most of the conspirators against Louis XIII, who was still a very young king at the time, where invited. This plot was muffled right at its start by the confessions of Monsieur, the brother of the King, who was amongst the conspirators. But he was such a coward that he gave the names of everyone to the King. The dinner never took place …. and the guard of La Poterne must have waited quite a long while for those carriages that never arrived …
Lived in since the construction of Château de Fleury in mid 16th century, a fire burnt down La Poterne in August 2013.
In 2016 Pierre d’Histoire recovered the building and restored it over a period of six months, with the help and savoir-faire of three artisans. From the fire, nothing could be salvaged except for an old staircase dating from the 17th century, its terra cotta floor tiles and the fireplace. Today, the Poterne is made of one living room and two bedrooms. This distribution of rooms remains unchanged from its original version, as no floor plan has been modified.
For this renovation, the biggest challenge was to modify the first floor from one room to three distinct rooms (kitchen, living room and dining room) without changing the volume and the esthetics of the initial space. To be able to do that, the choice of furniture was crucial: it was particularly important to find a very narrow dining room table and a stove that coincided perfectly, in size, to the fireplace.
As for the interior decoration, every detail is an invitation for relaxing and resting. The subtle soft tones and 18th century country style furniture decorate this unusual place. A special note for the pretty wardrobe found at Drouot as well as the Reeve’s pheasant on the stairway. Although the origins of the Poterne was that of a modest guard house, the spirit of chateau life is definitely present.
Do you want to stay there ?
La Poterne du Château de Fleury
For 4 people
From 136 € per night
La Tour du Château de Fleury
For 2 people
From 108 € per night
L'Ecurie du Château de Fleury
For 2 people
From 140 € per night
La Vigie du Château de Fleury
Pour 2 people
A partir de 100 € par nuit