Don’t let the appearance of the Château of Brézé fool you! This château is unlike any other, concealing the largest underground fortress in Europe beneath its stone fortifications. Built in the 15th century over the course of different fortification works, this underground network remains intact today and is open for visits. After a tour round the château above ground, visitors can plunge into its moats and tunnels carved into the rock to unearth the secrets of the families of nobles who lived here.
At first sight, there is nothing about the impressive Château of Brézé to suggest that it sits atop the largest underground fortress in Europe. The Brézé estate, hidden behind its silent stone walls, is now open to the public and offers some of the most unusual visits among the Loire Châteaux.

The site has belonged to the Lords of Brézé since the 11th century, when they were a powerful family of Lords and generous patrons of the Abbey of Fontevraud. In the 14th century the fiefdom entered the hands of the Maillé-Brézé family through marriage, and remained in their possession for 300 years. In 1448, Good King René granted Gilles of Maillé-Brézé permission to add fortifications to the building and dig out its moats. Huge trenches were excavated, and the extracted stone was used to build the château which his descendant, Artus of Maillé-Brézé, later decorated in the Renaissance style.

In the early 17th century, Urbain of Maillé-Brézé married Cardinal Richelieu’s sister, and the couple gave birth to Claire Clémence of Maillé-Brézé who was later given in marriage to Louis II of Bourbon-Condé in accordance with the wishes of her powerful uncle. The château promptly passed into the hands of the Condé family, who exchanged it for a property in Brittany that belonged to the Dreux family, who thereby became the new owners of Brézé. Henri Evrard of Dreux-Brézé, the Grand Master of Ceremonies to Louis XVI, carried out major work on it and extended the Renaissance wing of the château. His grandson, Henri Simon, commissioned Anjou architect René Hodé with the task of giving the château a Neo-Gothic style, whose main features comprised the Great Gallery, the Carrée Tower and a rotunda at the base of the clocktower. In 1959, Charlotte of Dreux-Brézé married Count Bernard of Colbert, a descendant of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the famous Minister to Louis XIV. Ever since, the Château of Brézé has belonged to the same family, who have passionately restored it.

It was listed as a Historic Monument in 1983 and opened its doors to the general public in 1998, revealing one of the Loire Valley’s best-kept secrets: a château beneath a château! There is a striking contrast between the two edifices. One is bedecked in Renaissance and Neo-Gothic ornamentation, while the other lies low in the depths of its dry moats. Visitors can venture into one of the largest underground fortresses in Europe, carved out over several kilometres in a network of caves and tunnels. The troglodyte village still has its stables, bakery, 17th-century silkworm farm and wine presses, whose produce was among the most highly sought-after at royal tables in the 15th century. The Château of Brézé still cultivates its vineyards, which cover an area of 28 hectares, and makes a variety of cuvées that you will even be able to taste!
Not to be missed

Richelieu’s bedchamber

It is not known whether Cardinal Richelieu actually stayed here, but this room was nevertheless ready and waiting for his visit. Recently renovated, it contains a monumental fireplace, period furnishings and a valuable tapestry that partly covers the red walls that reflect the colour of cardinals’ robes.
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Hidden Treasure

The oldest vineyard in Saumur

The ancient troglodyte presses testify to the estate’s ancestral winemaking activity, producing wines that were a favourite among King René and Joachim of Bellay.
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A troglodyte château

The Loire Valley’s greatest oddity is the Château of Brézé and its troglodyte village lying next to its huge moats.
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News from the château
Practical information


2 rue du Château
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Things to see in the area
How to get there
The Château of Brézé is 15 km from Saumur train station, which is 2 hours 20 minutes by train from Paris-Montparnasse via Tours or Angers.
Bus line 2 runs between the city of Saumur and the Château of Brézé.
By road, the château is 3 hours from Paris and 4 hours from Bordeaux.

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