Château du Grand Val dates back to mediaeval times, but its first known owner was G. Du Val in 1429. The property changed ownership a number of times, and at the end of the 18th century became the property of Count Jean Pinot du Petit-bois. The chateau remained in this family’s possession until well into the 20th century. Over the centuries Grand Val has experienced decades of peace and prosperity and a revolution and a number of brutal wars. During WW2 for example the Nazis commandeered the chateau.
Its high vantage point made it an excellent location for aerial reconnaissance. The Germans chopped down a number of the old trees in the park to improve their lines of sight and the wooden floor of the old chapel was ripped up to make bunk-beds. The officers moved into the chateau after the owners were evicted.
Château du Grand Val, or just Grand Val as the locals call it, is a manor house with no jurisdiction. After belonging to the du Val family until the mid 16th century it then changed hands a few times: it was owned by Antoine Morin sieur du Planty in 1714 and in 1760 was owned by Catherine Morin, wife of François Marc de la Chesnardière, lawyer at the Parliamentary Palace and later Chancellor of Justice and Estate Commissioner. Monsieur Chesnardière bought the neighbouring land, Vauluisant, in 1768, property that Chesnardière’s daughter later bequeathed to her husband Jean Pinot du Petit-bois. This then meant that Château du Grand Val was then owned by the Pinot du Petit-bois family until the beginning of the 20th century.
Grand Val is wonderfully located. To the south it is sheltered by a valley and to the north by the Combourg district. The chateau consists of two buildings, one from the 18th century and one from the 19th century. The oldest part, facing south, can probably be attributed to the first Pinot du Petit-bois or his father-in-law, François Marc de la Chesnardière, which is a simple 18th century building in architectural terms. This has seven spans, divided by slender pillars, which hold up the arched roof. The first four spans still have signs of an older foundation. The impressive fireplace from the end of the 15th century bears witness to the large hall of the original manor house. Original features like simple panelling remain, plus paintings by a member of the Pinot du Petit-bois family, decorate the mirrors above the fireplace. At the start of the 19th century a new annex was built to the north of the older building. This construction was thanks to Charles Agaton Pinot du Petit-bois and his wife Sophie Patard de la Vieuville. Their coat of arms, visible on the upper part of the fireplace, shows that they were married in 1855. The new building consists of two pavilions, joined by a smaller sunken section. On the west of the building is a small tower. The inside has been filled with a magnificent banqueting hall and vestibule with outstanding views.
According to the book, ‘Guillotin de Corson’, it was Antoine Morin who dedicated the chateau’s chapel to Saint Antoine in 1714. Older parts of the chapel can be dated before this, but it might have been reconstructed around the time the 19th century part of the chateau was built. In the eastern part of the valley, larders and sheds were built with dogs’ heads decorating above the doors, something that suggests the buildings’ original purpose was a kennel. Their architecture differs from the 19th century part, but could have been built at the same time.
Behind the kennel can be seen the enclosed kitchen garden where there are traces of a well-preserved greenhouse with the monogram, VP. At the edge of the wood towards the east is a small, square pavilion crowned with a decorative tower. The chateau has a formal park. A green area that fits in well with the contours of the valley, its old trees and steep slopes of the north is a winding path that was made to come out by the entrance of the new chateau.
This stylized image, which looks like a skinned ermine, is the symbol in Brittany for courage, high rank and dignity. This appears in many contexts, including in Brittany’s flag and as a mosaic on the hall floor of Château du Grand Val.
The mosaic floor in the entrance of the chateau was designed and set by the famous Isidore Odorico.
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