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Jean de Choisy in Balleroy castle: wine, rice and potatoes

The castle | Ikmo-ned / CC-BY-SA
Castle François Mansart Balleroy castle

Near Bayeux, this Norman countryside houses a small red schist castle. Let’s discover Balleroy together!

Ex nihilo

On a land owned in 1600 by wine trader Jean de Choisy, famous French architect François Mansart raised the castle between 1626 and 1636.

Here, we have no foundations of a medieval fortress or a primitive keep: he raised the brand new castle from scratch!

Killing two birds with one stone, Mansart also designed plans of Balleroy village! It was a first.

By marriage, the castle fell to Jacques de La Cour, who raised the estate to a marquisate in 1704.

Then rich American Malcolm Forbes bought it and opened it to the public.

Hey, do you see those box-trees, in the garden, laid out by famous landscaper Louis Duchêne, in 1894, based on plans by Le Nôtre? The landscaped garden was designed in 1850 to replace the old one…

Rice and potatoes

Jean de Choisy was pretty curious and philanthropist.

He went to London in England, and discovered there a strange vegetable: the potato.

The Irish already cultivated them since a long time! So, in France, why not? French people had lot of starvation times, so they had to innovate: do you remember the rice, a brand new “vegetable” brought back in Caen (Normandy) with the recipe of teurgoule?

Anyway, in England, Jean tasted those strange potatoes in the form of French fries: he just loved them!

He brought them back in Balleroy: he cultivated them on a small plot of land… and come what may!

Oh, but the lifting was great… in 1652, he could feed all the poor inhabitants of the area!

About the the author

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