31 March 2018

Honoré de Balzac in Saché (37), Indre-et-Loire (37)


Le Château de Saché has its origins in the Renaissance, although wings were added in the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries, and other alterations were made in the nineteenth century by the owner Jean Margonne. Margonne – a friend of Balzac's parents – often received Balzac (1799–1850) here, who affectionately referred to it as a 'vieux reste de château' in opposition to the other very impressive châteaux in the Loire valley. Balzac was born in Tours, which by car now is twenty-five kilometres from Saché, although then it was just over twenty on foot – a journey Balzac made. Between 1825 and 1848 Balzac regularly visited Margonne, finding peace and freedom from his debtors in Paris. He worked between twelve and sixteen hours a day, writing Le Père Goriot, César Birotteau, Louis Lambert and in part Illusions perdues here. His novel Le Lys dans la vallée is of course inspired by the area.

Paul Fournier's Honoré de Balzac, on which Fournier based his statue which was erected in Tours in 1889, and which the Nazis later took down for melting.

The dining room. The wealthy Margonnes lived in Tours and Paris but frequently returned to Saché. His surroundings inevitably influenced Balzac's novels.


Le Grand Salon, where Balzac played whist and tric-trac (a dice game) with Margonne.

The Cabinet de travail, representing Balzac's Derville in Le Colonel Chabert.

A representation of an ideal boudoir such as Fœdora's in La Peau de chagrin.

A representation of the luxurious bedroom of l'abbé Birotteau from Le Curé de Tours.



Reconstruction of Balzac's study, bedroom and cabinet de toilette.

Balzac by Alexandre Falguière.

In the Salle Rodin, a rather familiar representation of Balzac.

Balzac was a printer from 1826 to 1828. This is a reconstruction of a printing house of the day.

Horace Hennion, by Horace Delpérier (1910). Hennion was the originator of the Balzac museum collection, amongst which is the work below:

This bas-relief is by François Sicard, and was affixed to Balzac's birthplace, 39 rue Nationale, Tours, in 1899, the centenary of his birth. The house was destroyed in 1940.

A fascinating place, although we were initially very annoyed by an over-enthusiastic female 'guide' who tried to provide services we neither asked for nor welcomed: I would have liked to be far more blunt in my refusal. Ugh!

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