Châteaux and Residences
The château was an expression of power. It was an integral part of the French landscape. The village or town often grew up around it, creating an urban area.
From the Medieval era, the fortified castle provided protection for an entire village. In the Renaissance, the château or palace became the private domain of the lord who called upon the finest artists and craftsmen to decorate it. It became the model of an accomplished civil architecture. Royal and princely residences were built, notably along the "doulce Loire" with its mild climate. Favourite Duchesses and princesses took charge of the decoration and the garden. Absolute marvels emerged such as the châteaux at Chenonceaux, Blois, Chambord and Azay-le-Rideau. Fortresses became pleasant places to live, such as at Angers.
Some less opulent private residences still remained fortresses such as at Châteauneuf-en-Auxois on the Côte-d'Or, while a great many princely or noble residences, influenced by Versailles or Vaux-le-Vicomte in Ile-de-France, were built in the 17th-18th centuries or had architectural embellishments added such as at Talcy in Loiret or at Bussy-Rabutin on the Côte-d'Or. Noble residences that were pleasant to live in became the prerogative of the minor nobility, such as at Nohant in Indre.
A great many 19th-century châteaux looked to the styles of the past, with less elegance but increasing levels of comfort as time went by.