Buongiorno in Burgundy: Italian Architecture in the Heart of France

Our luxury Burgundian barge cruise on the beautiful La Belle Epoque gives you an opportunity to visit the historic Chateau d’Ancy-le-Franc. This slow-paced, all-inclusive barge cruise enables our passengers to fully immerse themselves in the culture and history of this stunning region.

The Chateau d’Ancy-le-Franc stands out from the traditional historical Burgundian chateaux. These were constructed as strongholds to protect the local population in times of conflict. Ancy-le-Franc was instead built more as a status symbol; not to protect but to show off.

In this article we discover a little more about the two influential Italian men, Francesco Primaticcio and Sébastino Serlio, who used their considerable talents and experience to create the palace that we see today.

Murals and Masterpieces: The Interiors

Francesco Primaticcio is the Italian designer responsible for the interiors of Ancy-le-Franc. Primaticcio was a highly respected Renaissance artist; when he was hired for the project he was working on the Palace of Fontainebleau for King François I. His artistic influence can be seen throughout Ancy-le-Franc’s interiors.

The castle’s impressive collection of Renaissance murals – the largest in the country – was collected under Primaticcio’s direction. This assembly of masterpieces is well worth seeing, it includes works by Nicolas de Hoey, Nicolo dell’Abbate and some by Primaticcio himself. A particular highlight of the Ancy-le-Franc interior is Diane’s Chamber with its colourful murals and lavishly decorated ceiling.

The various masterpieces curated by Primaticcio can still be viewed by visitors today. Look out for the 32-metre cameo which can be found in the Pharsalia Gallery.

Symmetry and Squares: The Exterior

The first thing our barge cruise passengers aboard La Belle Epoque see of the chateau is the symmetry of its exterior stonework. This style is typical of the important Renaissance architect Sébastiano Serlio who, like Primaticcio, had been working on the Palace of Fontainebleau before being recruited to design Ancy-le-Franc.

The palace is built on the banks of the Canal de Bourgogne in the centre of a peaceful park. Though large and imposing, the exterior is not overtly lavish and feels reserved in comparison to the explosion of art and colour found inside. Due to the Italian’s love of symmetrical design, Ancy-le-Franc is built on a square footprint with a large central courtyard.

Serlio was a highly respected master of architecture in his time and wrote an influential treatise on the subject. Though he sadly died in 1554 and was unable to see his design for the palace completed, his successor followed his plans faithfully resulting in the architectural success still standing today.

Experience It First Hand

A great way to experience this Renaissance marvel, as well as the beautiful inland waterways of the region, is to join us on a barge cruise on La Belle Epoque. To find out more about our itinerary just get in touch with our helpful sales team. We hope to see you on board.

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge cruise itineraries. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.

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