In the heart of Sologne, about 18km south of Orleans, lies one of the most charming and least visited castles in the Loire Valley: Château la Ferté Saint Aubin. It’s fair to say that the little Château de Saint-Aubin doesn’t measure up to the grandiose Chambord, or the flamboyant Chenonceau. But what it lacks in size and glamor, it compensates in charm and seclusion.
A Gem Waiting to Be Discovered
The castle is not on the regular route of castles, so most visitors to the Loire Valley didn’t even hear about it. We stumbled upon this charming gem it totally by accident, on our way to another castle.
We arrived at the gate around noon and the ticket booth seemed closed, Since we didn’t see anybody around, we proceeded across the front yard towards the back of the estate, fascinated by the idilic landscape.
Shortly after trespassing, we saw a young woman approaching us. She was pointing towards her watch, indicating the castle was not open yet. We told her we were in a rush and didn’t want to miss visiting it. After a little back-and-forth, she agreed to let us explore the grounds till the opening time.
A Brief History of Chateau la Ferté Saint-Aubin
The château dates back to the 17th century, when it belonged to the Countess of Trébon, a descendant of Trébon who served King Louis XIV as a Black Musketeer.
The estate changed hands several times over the centuries, eventually being acquired by the current owners, the Piffaut family. The new owner decided to open the estate to the public in order to finance the huge renovation works that have been going on for the past 30 years.
What to Expect at Chateau la Ferté Saint-Aubin
Inside the Château
Since the renovation is still in progress, the building is not in the best shape in some places. However, that makes the castle feel even more authentic and charming.
Unlike other castles in the Loire Valley, the Chateau la Ferté Saint-Aubin is a rare, non-commercialized castle. Here you can actually explore every room, from the cellar to the attic, and even sit on the furniture.
The owners want you to experience life in a château and they invite you to feel at home. I found that concept very attractive. Especially when compared with the strict rules and corded barriers of the other châteaux in the Loire Valley.
The tour includes 15 furnished chambers, an attic and a basement. In the attic is an impressive collection of carpentry tools and old roof tiles.
Visit the stables to see the display of equine memorabilia. On the 2nd floor you’ll see a recreation of an old classroom that will take you back into your grandparents’ time.
In the Orangerie there is a great collection of antique dolls and toys, some of which are very valuable. The only thing we couldn’t visit was the château’s Chapel, which seemed to have been closed for renovation. But seeing the exterior was rewarding enough, especially with its reflection in the lake.
On Sunday afternoons, cooks dressed in period costume will show you around the 17th century kitchen and invite you to taste their delicious cookies.
The Château Grounds
What sets the Château la Ferté Saint Aubin apart from the other castles we visited in France is the pristine location and picturesque grounds, full of waterways, meadows and woodlands.
In the beautiful park that surrounds the castle you’ll come across all kinds of funny games and quirky attractions. There is even a train station and a real train with a steam locomotive and a wagon from the mythical Orient Express.
The waiting room at the station is inhabited by a family of cute little bunnies that hide fast under the dusty benches whenever a visitors comes in.
There are over 30 games around the park, like chess, draughts, croquet, golf, or archery. These most likely make the visit very attractive for families with children, but we enjoyed them just as much.
There are lovely photographic opportunities in this place, both outside and inside, fo if you happen to be chasing French châteaux on the Loire Valley, don’t overlook the beautiful Chateau la Ferte Saint-Aubin. It’s a magical place and we really loved visiting it!
Practical Information for Visiting the Château
Château la Ferté Saint Aubin is located at 45240 La Ferte Saint Aubin, France.
There is free parking lot which provides ample spaces for the château.
|Opening hours: daily, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 p.m.|
|Admission fee: Adults € 9.50; Children € 6.50|