English style park
The english park was laidout from 1830 onwards by the Champagné family who had just bought the château.
the name of the lanscape painter is "Chatelain". The english park covers 47 hectares, 6 km of walks and contains many interestings features
The french garden
To what one might think, this garden in the french style which perfectly complements the 18th century architecture of the château, was only created in 1930 by the Marquis d'Andigné, second husband of Hélène de Langle, widow of Alain de Champagné.
When comparing the two rows of lime trees which border the garden, one observes thet the trees on the left side (going towards the round pound) are very old - more then 200 years - while those on the right side were not planted until 1930.
The terracing which enabled the right-hand lime trees to be planted, required a large input of soil which came from the swan lake dug out partly for this purpose.
Kitchen garden is up to 12000 m2. It was arranged in squares, bordered with paths ans espalier fruit trees.
Kept until 1970, it was transformed and considerably reduced with the aim of cutting the cost of labour it required. The greenhouses were abandoned at that time.
Work on the restoration in 1990's by Louis de Guébriant.
Every years, the third sunday of october, the pumpkins of the garden are sold at "l'automne en fête" great party with hunting, market and animations for familys.
Built into the south perimeter wall, a wall which has been restored, there is an old medieval syle tower with its two loopholes for shooting arrows.
The greenhouses in the kitchen garden
three in number, tey all date from 19th century. They were restored in 1993 and 1994.
The first is a "lean-to" greenhouse against the wall. It was unheated.
The second is a propagation greenhouse which was heated, as were the vinery and the orangery.
The orangery, was built at the end of the 19th century when the first orangery, located near the stables was converted into a house.
The small garden was laid out in a former quarry. Three rocky staircases lead up to the terrace planted with Nandina Domestica, palms and centuries-old oaks. They lead to the "allée des rouliers", which you can follow to your heart's content as far as the château or the vegetable garden. The small garden is made up of balls of pruned boxwood, holly, eléagnus and privet. In spring, the Japanese quince turn a lovely shade of red, followed by rhododendrons. The view from the small staircase leading up to the allée des rouliers is very beautiful. At the end of July, when the wilder vegetation has grown, the foxgloves are abundant.
ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES OF THE PARK
The wash-house and laundry are located on the banks of the river Oudon, surrounded by rhododendrons, near the old ford where people used to cross the river on horseback. In the past, the "buée" (the big wash) took place two or three times a year. It kept a head washerwoman and three assistants busy for several days.
The laundry room has been restored by Louis de Guébriant. Two vats were used for steaming, in which linen was soaked in boiling water with wood ash for washing. Hot water was produced by a wood-fired boiler in a large cauldron.
THE ICE HOUSE
The château's ice house is isolated by three successive doors and its brick vault protected by a thick layer of earth. Built in the 19th century, this small building was used as a refrigerator until the middle of the 20th century. During the summer months, products that needed to be kept cool were stored on a floor level with the cold room. Ice taken from the river during the winter and snow were stored in this room. The melted snow and ice were then channelled into the river. The length of time the ice house was in operation depended on the amount of ice and snow stored in winter and the outside temperature.
The octagonal construction dates from the late 18th century, with the current decoration dating from 1830. The woodwork on the other side is almost identical, with only a half-turret added in 1830. The chapel was designed by Guillaume de Champagné Giffard, who bought the château in 1828. He is represented in the two identical stained glass windows with his wife, Adélaïde de Bonneval. A yellow and blue mosaic adorns the floor, bearing the Champagné hermines of Brittany and the fleur-de-lys, the symbol of French royalty - we are here at the beginning of the marches of Brittany. The chapel contains an impressive collection of relics, over 1,000 in all, including a cassock worn by Pope Pius IX. In the 4 turrets, the stained glass windows depict each of the four evangelists Saint Luke, Saint Matthew, Saint John and Saint Mark.The 2 chapels around the altar are funeral chapels, as three people are buried here: Amicie de la Grange was Alain de Champagné's mother, along with her son Juhel, who died at the age of 3, and François, the current owner's uncle, who died on the evening of his birth in 1949.the chapel is also dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with wreaths everywhere bearing an intertwined A and M for Ave Maria. The large Virgin and Child in the half-turret above the altar is lit naturally by a window in the roof. Finally, the chapel is consecrated and mass is celebrated there several times a year.
The bakehouse and the dovecote
Between the stables and the château is the bakehouse with its large bread oven. A brick-built dovecote with tufa-framed openings stands in the middle of the courtyard, while a wood shed is on the right; this is where logs were stored to supply the castle's numerous fireplaces. The building on the left is a dwelling house. At the back are the kennels for the master of the house's hunting dogs: springer spaniel. The large dovecote is no longer home to pigeons, but is inhabited by pretty barn owls, which have young there every year. Barn owls are so called because they emit slightly frightening cries at night. However, they are perfectly harmless animals and, like cats, they capture a large number of mice.
Two bridges across the river
Two bridges cross the main course of the river Oudon and the mill water diversion canal at the far end of the park. These bridges were built at the same time as the château. The protective railings were rebuilt in 1993 to match the 1770 model. From the first bridge, visitors can see the old Craon wash-house. The view from this bridge is particularly interesting when you're on the ring road on the small garden side. To make these bridges strong enough, the Marquis d'Armaillé had to plant chestnut posts, as they were built in a very marshy area.
The large pound
This pond was built in 1930 by the Marquis Fortuné d'Andigné as an extension to the Renazé-Pouancé road. It was dug without today's mechanical means. All the earth recovered from digging the pond was used to create the esplanade for the formal garden. A floating bridge was installed across the river for the duration of the works and a small railway was laid out. Horses pulled wagons to bring up the soil. A few ornamental palmipeds liven up the pond, which is also popular with mallards that come to feed at the owners' expense! Carp, bream, pike-perch and pike-perch populate the pond, and guests staying in the guest house can try their luck. The best fish are released back into the water.
The entrances to Craon park were designed by the Anjou architect Édouard Moll (1797-1876). He designed the two-leaf wrought iron gate and the caretaker's lodge on the route de Laval in 1840. The design of the spirals on the gate symbolises the dual origins of the estate, with its neoclassical château and English-style parkland. In 1843, work began on the second entrance to Bel-Air, on Place Saint-Nicolas, in line with the route de Nantes. The pavilions of Bel-Air copied the layout of the conciergerie on the route de Laval and were framed by a 14-metre-wide wrought-iron gate.
Map of the park
1 The Castle
2 The French garden
3 The bakery
4 The ice house
5 The wash house and laundry
6 The most beautiful oak tree in the park
7 The small garden
8 The two bridges over the river “Oudon”
9 The swan pond
10 The vegetable garden
11 The greenhouses and orangery of the kitchen garden
12 The former stables
13 Watering place of the spawning ground
14 The forestry