A Russian princess in Brittany

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

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 the princess Mathilde, Napoleon III's cousin. Zénaïde was born in 1809 in a noble Russian family, soooo rich (richer then the tsar himself).

When her first husband died, the 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! There, when her pretty dark eyes met Charles de Beauvau’s ones.

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 will love him more than anyone else: she married with him, bought him titles and then, he became a count. And she even bought him lands of Keriolet, on this Breton land she loved so much...

Russian bear and Mirabeau’s desk

Between 1862 and 1883, the architect Joseph Bigot was in charge of the building site. Just imagine, the architect created a true Gothic castle, with elements took from different French building: 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, turn 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 name “tower Marie-Jeanne”, who was the count’s cooker. We learn during the visit that she had a love affair with the count Charles! Keriolet was completed within 20 years: Zénaïde thought she could enjoy his new house, but her Charles died just before their moving in.

The princess died in 1897 and gave the estate to the Finistère département: she wanted her castle to be transform into a museum. But Keriolet was plundered, sold, and the estate slowly deteriorated... Hey, we’re going to see why, now !


And also!