Little histories about Sassenage castle

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The castle - ©Milky / CC-BY-SA The castle - ©Milky / CC-BY-SA
Sassenage castle Castle Love story Louis XI Zizim Marguerite de Sassenage Legend

Mélusine, a damn good ancestor!

In the beginning of the castle's story, we find lords of Sassenage, a very old family from Dauphiné, whose first mention dates back to the 10th c. Did you know that the legend tells that Raymondin de Bérenger’s wife, the ancestor of the fief’s lords, was the famous fairy Mélusine?

Besides, not far from here, we still visit the caves of Mélusine, which used to fill by themselves every year on the Epiphany? It was there that the fairy used to come.

The Turkish prince and the Sassenage lady

Do you remember Zizim, Ottoman sultan's son, Méhémet II, we met in Bourganeuf (Creuse)? This exile prince in the middle of the 15th c. was also there, in the area, when they send him in the castle of Rochechinard (Drôme). Maybe did he stop in the castle of Sassenage? Maybe, we don’t know exactly…

Anyway, that’s here in Sassenage that he fell in love with the lady of the lord, Philippine, that people nicknamed Hélène because she was so pretty. Zizim said to her father, the baron of Sassenage, he would change religion if he gave him his daughter’s hand. The father refused. Anyway, hilippine already loved one man, Laurent de Beaumont… His father finally married her with another man, that she didn’t love… Well, that’s it, everybody was deceived! Philippine married 3 times: the legend says that the fairy Mélusine warned her…

Loulou’s crush

Hey, among the Sassenage’s family, we had someone famous: Marguerite, king Louis XI’s mistress! They had a love affair during 2 years. And that story happened: Louis’ astrologer told him one day that a beloved woman would die. “Ye gods, not Marguerite, please!” moaned Louis, who had a crush on her.

So, unhappy, he said to the astrologer: “Stop that, mister the wise guy, to predict people’s death, and tell me instead when YOU’ll die!” The astrologer answered: “Oh, easy: I’ll die 3 days before you…” Oh my gosh… Deadly silence. Louis was so panic-stricken by the idea of death! Instead of wringing his astrologer’s neck, he let him live his life as he pleased…

In short, the two lovers had 2 legitimized daughters: one of them, Marie of Valois, married the count of Saint-Vallier, Aymar de Poitiers… the descendant of the famous Diane de Poitiers (king Henri II’s mistress)

Brand new!

In the 17th c., Charles-Louis-Alphonse de Sassenage, marquis of Pont-Royans, decided to raise a brand new castle. Architect Laurent Sommaire was put in charge of the building site between 1662 and 1669: the white stony castle is a small main building flanks by two detached houses.

They fit out the apartments with panellings, painting ceilings, precious furniture made by the best cabinetmakers from Grenoble… The landscaped garden was laid out in 1770. Sassenage was spared during the French Revolution, and the Bérenger, who owned the castle until 1970, laid out a brand new park between 1853 and 1856, then they gave the estate to the Fondation de France.

Well, that was a close call!

In 1786, a young smuggler rot in jail in Grenoble. Nothing, nobody to save his head… the gallows waited for him! But his girlfriend decided to ask for help to the marquise de Sassenage… why this particular lady? Because the Sassenage family had the power to reprieve prisoners, a reward because they loyally served kings of France! Our marquise was touched by the young lady… she wanted to help her! So she rushed in Grenoble to stop the execution! But, tired of that crazy story, she died few days weeks after that, at the age of 84…

Stony lions and unbridled passions

Do you see the two lions flanking the staircase, on the façade? A legend (seen in Revue du Dauphiné, part 1, by Jules Ollivier) says that in the past, a woman from Sassenage fell in love with them… She madly fell in love with a soldier in garrison in Grenoble, a man who completely dropped her, afterwards. You boor!

Yes, and the lady sank into madness and started to wander in the castle’s gardens, near the stony lion she especially loved: at night, she came rubbing herself up against the statues, and finally bit them! So our poor lions were completely eroded, at the end… and they still are!