Guermantes estate belonged to the Viole family since 1550, but it was Claude Viole, councillor in Paris Parliament, who raised the castle in 1620. He built a detached house in the back of the courtyard and outhouses, from 1631 to 1638. When his father died in 1638, Pierre Viole called the sculptor Pierre Guérin in order to decorate two chimneys.
But Pierre took part in the Fronde rebellion; he had to go into self-imposed exile. He came back in 1659 and died in 1667. In 1698, Paulin Prondre owned Guermantes: he was a rich lawyer in Paris city, who financed Louis XIV's expensive wars... some gossips claimed that he made a profit too! He became count of Guermantes in 1710 and started building works in his castle.
Hardouin-Mansart raised the front steps, as Robert de Cotte and Perrault completed the wing set at right angles: this one houses the belle inutile, an exceptional 31 metres long gallery, lights up by 18 windows!
De Cotte created inner decorations, where Jean Hanard cared the panels. Finally, a formal garden was laid out, with flowerbeds. Prondre sold the castle in 1719 to John Law. Law, do you know him? A famous Scottish banker who founded East India Company and Royal bank... this one went bankrupt in 1720...
Completely ruined, Law flew away from France and Prondre get his castle back in 1721. Our man discovered all the damages Law's children made: they used to enjoy playing darts on paintings and panels! Prondre's heirs became marquis of Guermantes and get out of the French Revolution safe and sound...