Charming and romantic, that is the garden awaiting for visitors to come take a walk in it. We can’t dissociate the rich architecture of the Château de Balleroy from the wonder of its English park and its French garden. Landscapists Bournot et Chatelain modified the surroundings of the château in the 19th century by crafting winding lanes. The garden has been reworked in the 20th century by Achille and Henri Duchêne.
François Mansart had created the chateau’s landscaping along the east-west axis including beds of boxwood and a circular water feature. In the middle of the 19th century, after the return from exile of the owners caused by the French Revolution, the park was restored by landscapers Bournot and Chatelain who created an English park surrounding the château in the characteristic natural and romantic style of the period. The park covers 166 hectares (410 acres). You can stroll along the marked trails and admire the remarkable trees.
The French gardens
At the start of the 20th century, Henry Duchêne designed the boxwood parterres in the forecourt, after designs by André Le Nôtre. Originally this space would have been empty in order to accommodate the activities of the two stables which border it.
Henri Duchêne “gave himself this goal, from the beginning of his private carreer, to bring back the art of Parks and Gardens to architecture, meaning to the French style”. For Henri Duchêne, a park is “a real document of the past”.
All the decorative elements of the French garden (big perspective, terraces, stoops, ponds, boxwood enbroidery, statues, vases, latticework patterns, etc.) form part of the general effect and bear witness to the influence Mr. Duchêne succeeded in showing to those who owned these big properties.
The dovecote, heir of the roman colombarium, is the name of a small tower, generally independant of the other buildings. The dovecote of the château is a round one and includes more than 1700 nests or “boulins” of stone in whiche a couple of birds could live.
The number of “boulins” was a representation of the scope of the land, and therefore, of the power of the lord. The dovecote had an important economics aspect.
The pigeons used to be a very useful animal. You could eat them, use them as messengers or use their droppings or “colombine” as a fertilizer for the gardens. In the past, the “colombine” Was such an important thing you could often see it mentioned on marriage contracts as part of a dowry.
You can visit the dovecote of the château, which is one of the rare ones that has retained its original layout.