About Sanzay Castle
Sanzay Castle or Château de Sanzay is a ruined castle located near the village of Sanzay, in the commune of Argenton-les-Vallées in the Deux-Sèvres département of France. The castle was constructed in the 13th century but only parts of it remain. Unfortunately, few documents testify directly to the castle’s construction or use.
Sanzay Castle history
During the 13th century at the time Sanzay Castle was constructed, France became a centralised kingdom. Under the reign of Louis IX from 1226, France prospered economically while seeing administrative reform and a heightened religious orthodoxy enforced. Louis also had to contend with Henry III of England, determined to reclaim the duchies of Aquitaine, Anjou and Normandy that had been lost during the Hundred Years’ War.
Despite increasing centralisation, France continued to be largely ruled by feudal dukes who paid tribute to the King of France. These dukes governed their land from strongholds such as Sanzay Castle. The imposing residence of the medieval Sanzay family featured 2 imposing Gothic dungeon towers topped with crenellations and dotted by arrow slits which were used for archers in the case of an attack. A stone bridge crossed a defensive moat to a drawbridge door.
At some time before 1460, the castle has been damaged, and reconstruction was undertaken until completed in 1510. The castle’s was later abandoned until around 1793 during the French Revolution when additions were made giving the site its current appearance.
Sanzay Catle has been listed since 1930 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Sanzay Castle today
Surrounded by farmland, Sanzay Castle’s original 13th century towered entrance is predominantly ruined. However, those stopping by will still be able to see the standing remains of the impressive towers, gateway, the chapel and remains of the fortifications that encircled the castle.
Open to visitors from 9am to 5.30pm, crossing over the moat and under the towers you will find several interesting metal sculptures and an information board that gives a brief known history of the site in both French and English. You can stop for a drink from the small shop located within the old castle walls.
Getting to Sanzay Castle
Sanzay Castle is best reached by car, and is located just off the D748 along the D148, a 1 hour and 22 minute drive from Nantes. There is free parking in front of the castle.