The name of Menetou comes from Monastellum Sarlonis, ″Sarlon’s monastery″, from the name of a Norman lord settled here in the 10th century. In the 12th century, we have a first fortress.
And we had vineyards around the land… On the next century, the Sancerre lords owned the fief, but they abandoned the old fortress, to raise a more comfortable dwelling, on the location of the current castle.
In 1448, a famous chap turned up: Jacques Coeur! The mighty and rich Treasurer owned the castle, because he liked the area (he was born in Bourges) and he was fond of Salon’s wine! But we know how Jacques fell in grace… The king Charles VII seized his castle after his arrest and gave it to his own mistress, Antoinette de Maignelay.
The castle then fell to Jeanne de Graville then to her nephews the Balzac d'Entragues, then in the 16th century to the Pot.
Guillaume Pot made alterations in the beginning of the 17th century (construction of the detached house). In the 18th century, Pauline de Gand de Mérode married count de Brancas-Lauraguais.
Their only daughter married Louis-Engelbert d'Arenberg in 1777... And the duchess de Brancas was finally guillotined during the French Revolution… and the castle damaged.
In the 19th century, Pierre d'Arenberg turned up with his wife Alix de Talleyrand-Périgord... famous minister Talleyrand's niece.
Their son Auguste d'Arenberg entirely altered the castle with his architect Paul-Ernest Sanson. Hey, a pretty familiar name! This chap also altered the castle of La Verrerie, located in Central France, too!
Meanwhile, the family was rich: the reconstruction cost the crazy sum of 1,7 millions francs! Sanson added all the skylights, the pinnacles… according to the Neo-Gothic fashion!
By the way, did you know who are the princes-dukes d'Arenberg? Coming from Hainaut, they used to rule on a small State from the Holy German Empire, next to Prussia. They are the oldest noble family in Europe, since they are mentioned since… 435!
We can see:
• The dining-room, in the medieval wing, with its amazing ceramics
• The billiard room, with the Arenberg’s portraits
• The library (12000 books), with oak panelings and the Italian chimney made of grey marble (coming from the castle of Lavoûte-Polignac… Look at those animals’ heads, on the fireplace: if you push them, you activate a secret door leading to an underground!
• The impressive collection of old cars
• The engine which used to bring electricity in the castle: Menetou was the first wired house in France, in the 19th century!