intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
This seigniory of Prye, in the Loire Valley in Burgundy, was the birthplace of one of the most revered queens of the Kingdom of Poland in the 17th century. Built on the foundations of an ancient medieval fortress, this chateau still retains much of its historic decor. Its immense enclosed park, marble-panelled stables, French-style ceilings and sculptured decors are a real feast for the eyes. The Marquis du Bourg de Bozas have looked after this elegant light stone château de Prye for nine generations. They will treat you to Château life with a big ‘L’ in their prestigious guest rooms and accommodation which can be rented on the property.
The Château is reserved for prestigious events, weddings and official receptions on a regular basis © Château de Prye
© Carte de Cassini (1750)
The Prye locality already boasted a fortress in the 10th century. Called Firmitius, it gave its name to the adjoining village called La Fermeté. Only the remnants of a tower and moat round the current château date from this period. At that time the owners were the Lords de Prye (or de Prie). Their motto and war cry was ‘Cant l’Oyseaulx’ (let the bird sing), a symbol that can be seen in several places. In March, 1462, Antoine de Prye sold his land to Imbert de La Platière, knight and lord of Bordes.
Prye passed through marriage and inheritance into the hands of Count Antoine de la Grange d’Arquien in 1603. Forty years later, his granddaughter Marie-Casimire became a maid of honour to Louise-Marie de Gonzague, daughter to the Duke of Nevers. The latter was a princess with an amazing destiny since she was to marry one in succession two Kings of Poland, both Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Folowing her, Marie-Casimire attracted great attention and acquired royal status too, after her marriage to Jan Sobieski. Due to his outstanding military successes again the Turkish army, this valiant prince was indeed called upon to accept the crown of Poland in 1674. It was Jan Sobieski who delivered the besieged city of Vienna from the Ottomans in 1683. For this victory, he was awarded the title of Saviour of Christianity. The Sobieski couple built Wilanow Palace near Warsaw.
The Grand Visir Kara Mustafa surrenders to Jan III Sobieski after the battle of Vienna (1683) © Juliusz Kossak
Now the property of the Queen of Poland, the chateau undergoes extensive refurbishment in the 17th century. The blond stone used by the masons comes from a quarry on the property itself. On the queen’s death, her son James sold the Prye domain to the Abbé de Simiane who sold it two years later to Michel de Las, Lord of Valotte and other places.
Map of the domain of Prye, at a time when the château was still surrounded by its moat © Château de Prye
Marquise de Prye (anonymous)
In 1725, the young Louis XV married Marie Leszczynska, daughter of the deposed Polish king Stanislaw Leszczynski (future Duke of Lorraine and Bar). This union was encouraged by the Marquise de Prye, who was the favourite of the Duke of Bourbon, the King’s Prime Minister. She would play an important role at court before falling into disgrace a few years later, victim of dissensions within the royal family. She died at the age of 28.
Emmanuel du Bourg de Bozas, Maréchal de Camp (1693) © Château de Prye
In 1771, Louise-Marie de Las, heiress to the château de Prye, married Emmanuel du Bourg, fifth marquis de Bozas. Their descendants undertook vast building work on the site. Charles-Louis (1802-1882) started by constructing a 7 km boundary wall round the property. Antonin du Bourg de Bozas (1836-1922) continued this work by re-designing the park, whose layout was assigned to the landscape architect Edouard André. His General Treaty on the Composition of Parks and Gardens describes its guiding principles.
The princely horseboxes © Château de Prye
In parallel, architect Massillon-Rouvet, a pupil of the celebrated Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, restored and enlarged the chateau. A statue of St. George was placed on top of the hexagonal tower. Sumptuous stables, lined with marble panels, were built in 1888, at the behest of Antonin du Bourg de Bozas, Napoleon III’s equerry, who returned to his lands on the fall of the Second Empire. This grandiose monument encompasses all facets of the equestrian arts. Its princely horseboxes are reserved for the hunters and there are 630 square meters of stables where sophisticated exercises can be practised. The in-house staff have their sleeping quarters upstairs.
One of the expedition’s trophies © Château de Prye
Under the stable eaves, some African animal trophies stare down at us. These were brought back from Africa by Viscount Robert du Bourg de Bozas, the marquis’s younger brother. He managed a scientific mission for the French government in 1903: ‘From the Red Sea to the Atlantic‘. Leaving from Djibouti, he travelled through Ethiopia and the high plateaus of the Nile, before dying in Amadi (Congo).
At the beginning of the 20th century, Emmanuel du Bourg de Bozas (1896-1990) started breeding the famous Charolais cows. It is now his grandson, Antoine-Emmanuel with his wife and their children who manage the domain. The château, which has been thoughtfully restored, has five very attractive guest rooms, while the two pavilions have been converted into (simpler) accommodation for families. A whole host of events, musical evenings, weddings, seminars, car rallies, etc. are organised at Prye, in the heart of this rugged, game-filled wilderness.
In 2014, during the ‘Historic House Congress’, Prye château won the ‘Hunting and Nature Trust’ award to bolster its restoration programme © Sébastien Nesly
Marquis Antonin du Bourg Bozas, who inspired the neo-Gothic works © Château de Prye
Each of the château’s three wings was built in a different period. The oldest, with its attractive octagonal tower, is a reminder of the Renaissance. The building with the loftiest roofs reflects classical proportions, typical of the 18th century. As for the main building to the East, whose dimensions are more modest, this dates from the end of the 19th century, and is built in typical Gothic revival style. Surprisingly, the stables built at this time, take their classical inspiration from Versailles. A fine stylistic puzzle for enthusiasts of the genre, each generation has left its ‘mark’ on the various parts of the domain, encapsulating different historical eras.
Marquis Antoine-Emmanuel du Bourg Bozas and his wife Magdalena evoke the history of the domain and their commitment to keep it alive in the 21st century (French only) – from the documentary series “Châteaux de France” © Electron libre productions
© Château de Prye
A stay at Prye means enjoying being at a unique site which boasts a rich cultural and historic heritage. It takes a whole day just to do justice to such a domain as the park has so many vistas waiting to be discovered.
Nevers, a city of art and history a few kilometres away, has many period buildings which can be visited, including the ducal palace built at the end of the 15th century, residence of Princess Louise-Marie de Gonzague of Mantua, future Queen of Poland (as indicated in the name of the adjoining square). The palace, which is now the town hall, has however, not retained much of its original interior decor. The town’s medieval rampart, cathedral and several churches are worth a visit, as is the Pottery Museum.
Palace of the Duke of Nevers, residency of the Prince de Gonzague © Jane Drumsara
Taureau charolais © Benjamin Claverie
About 40 kilometres away, Charité sur Loire and its famous priory are also destinations which have a great appeal to history buffs.
The Nivernais attracts many keen walkers, along the Loire in Burgundy, the Canal du Nivernais (18th century) or in the numerous picturesque villages in this region, barely touched by urbanisation.
Gastronomes will not be disappointed: Charolais beef, fresh water fish and a great many other delicacies are well known, and where would we be without some typical Burgundian wines such as the celebrated Pouilly?
To fully appreciate the period atmosphere of Prye chateau, do not hesitate to enhance your stay by reading a few books (nothing beats a good historical novel to bring old stones back to life). Listening to some period music may also be a good way to transport you back in time… A few suggestions:
Learn and understand
Books to savor during your stay
The perfect setting for a little music
Superbe lieu, chargé d'histoire. Nous avons été reçus en toute simplicité et très chaleureusement par la Marquise du Bourg de Bozas, Magdalena, issue d'une ancienne famille Polonaise (voilà une racine qui aurait fait plaisir à la reine de Pologne, jadis maîtresse des lieux !)
L'absence de panneaux indicateurs (entrée, réception, parking, vestiaire...), de tout menu ou autres "desk" commercial à l'entrée était un peu déconcertante de prime abord, mais cela nous a tout de suite fait prendre conscience que nous étions VRAIMENT reçus chez l'habitant et non pas à l’hôtel. Nous voici plongés comme des invités dans ces lieux magiques. Le repas du soir – qui n'était pas indiqué, mais qui nous a été proposé sur place – était parfait. Cela nous a permis de ne pas devoir quitter ces lieux.
Les chambres sont vraiment spacieuses et confortables. Salles de bains à l'ancienne, mais agréables et modernisées tout en restant authentiques.
Parc incroyable qui invite à la ballade.
Seul regret : nous n'étions sur place qu'une seule nuit ! Nous reviendrons, à coup sûr !
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Château de Prye
Marquis & Marquise du Bourg de Bozas
58160 LA FERMETÉ
+33 3 86 58 42 64
Château’s own website
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