In the 19th century, the Count and the Countess of La Rochefoucauld-Bayers constructed a grand Neo-Gothic castle on their La Potherie Estate. They commissioned Parisian architect Louis Visconti, famed for designing the Louvre extension, to replace the original 16th century castle. The owners chose Rene Hode, a well-known Angevin architect to oversee the building project. Construction began in 1848 and was completed in 1854.
The chateau was designed to commemorate the passing of time. Its 4 towers represent the seasons, 12 turrets represent the lunar months, 26 spiral staircases represent the fortnights per year, 52 fireplaces represent the weeks of the year, and 365 windows represent each passing day. It covers an area of 7,600 square meters (nearly 82,000 square feet.) Unfortunately, Count La Rochefoucald died before the project’s completion. Following the death of her husband, Ida de la Potherie, Countess of La Rochefoucauld-Bayers, oversaw the final stages of construction.
Ultimately, the chateau became one of the grandest private French homes of the 19th century. It boasts a wealth of architectural detail, including intricate woodcarvings, Gothic panelling and sculptures, large working fireplaces, and hand painted ceilings. It is situated on a beautifully manicured estate, which occupies one corner of a quaint village. Because of the property’s ambiance and the design of the castle itself, Chateau Challain is often referred to as the “Neo-Gothic Jewel of Anjou” or “Le Petite Chambered.”