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A Russian princess in Brittany

The castle | Julien1978 / CC-BY-SA
Castle Love story Zenaide Narychkine Keriolet castle

Zénaïde and Charles: love at first sight!

Oh, is this a fairy tale castle? Almost! The Russian princess Zenaïde Narychkine raised it in 1840: she was exiled in France and discovered Brittany thanks to princess Mathilde, Napoleon III's cousin.

Zénaïde was born in 1809 in a noble Russian family, soooo rich (richer then the tzar himself).

When her first husband died, prince Youssoupov, she moved in France, near Paris. She had a nice and comfortable life… until this fine day where her friend Mathilde had a ball in her town house.

There, an encounter completely changed her life! Precisely when her pretty dark eyes met Charles de Beauvau’s eyes.

Oh, she had 60 years-old, he was 30. He wasn’t nobleman at all, he was a member of the general council of Finistère… bad luck!

But it was real love at first sight for both two. Zénaïde would love him more than anyone else: she married him, bought him titles and then, he became a count. And she bought him lands of Keriolet...

Russian bear and Mirabeau’s desk

Between 1862 and 1883, architect Joseph Bigot was in charge of the building site.

Just imagine, the architect created a real Gothic castle, with elements took from different French buildings: a pinch of Josselin here, a pinch of Blois there...

It's a dreamy Middle-Age, with moats, turrets, Cyrillic inscriptions… and this little bear sculpted at the top of the roof, turned towards the East, towards Russia!

Inside, we had a nice decoration made by a socialite woman who spoke fluently English, French and German: Zénaïde collected amazing pieces and transformed Keriolet into a real little museum!

Her bed, for instance, was the one of the famous French tragedian Rachel (from the Comédie-Française), the desk belonged to French revolutionary Mirabeau...

A small tower was named “Marie-Jeanne tower”, who was the count’s cooker. We learn during the visit she had a love affair with count Charles!

Keriolet was completed within 20 years: Zénaïde thought she could enjoy his new house, but Charles died just before their moving in.

The princess died in 1897 and gave the estate to the Finistère departement: she wanted her castle to be transform into a museum. But Keriolet was plundered, sold, and the estate slowly deteriorated...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!