Château de Candé
Route du Ripault, 37260 Monts, Indre-et-Loire
This house is best associated with...
Santiago Drake del Castillo
Santiago Drake del Castillo, of Paris & Château de Candé, Indre-et-Loire
French Grandeur with American Luxury
The chateau was inherited by Drake's eldest son, Jacques, who lived here quietly and made no major changes but improved the vineyards and modernized the winemaking apparatus. His son, Jean, relocated to Cannes and in 1927 sold the chateau for $32,000 to the shady Franco-American businessman, Charles Bedaux, and his American wife, Fern Lombard.
By 1930, the Bedaux' had spent a further million dollars adding modern American luxury to their old French chateau. Overseen by Henri Lafargue, the French Architect-in-Chief of Historic Monuments, they updated the electrics and installed a full plumbing system, central heating, a telephone, and a $40,000 electro-pneumatic organ made by Ernest Skinner in Boston. The eight bedrooms were all given Art-Deco en-suite bathrooms with baths that could be filled in less than a minute, and they also added a gymnasium and solarium. They put a stop to the logging started by the cash-strapped Jean Drake and hired landscape architect Louis Decorges to beautify the parkland that included laying out an 18-hole golf course over 7.4-acres, and building a tennis court and swimming pool.
"An Ideal Solution to an Intolerable Situation"
Far from this being a grand affair, only seven people attended the wedding of the man who six months before had been King of England - none of the Royals attended and only Bessie Merryman represented the bridal family. Wallis' old schoolfriend, Mary Raffray (at whose house Wallis was introduced to her second husband, Simpson), observed from New York: "Much as I loathe Wallis, I can't help feeling half pleased half sorry for the slap in the face she's had to receive not being Royal Highness and to me much worse, none of their friends or sycophants going to the wedding. The Brownlows felt it bad for home work and so did most people and I think she was too proud to ask her American friends".
Getting into Bedaux with the Devil
War and Peace
In June, 1940, the Bedaux' allowed the chateau to be used by American diplomats as a retreat. For a month (October) in 1942 it was occupied by the Germans before it was returned to them, but Mr. Bedaux was not to enjoy his chateau for long. In November, he was arrested by the French and transferred to the Americans at the request of the OSS. Two years later (1944), while awaiting trial for trading with the enemy and treason, he was found dead in his cell having committed suicide. His widow, Fern, remained at the chateau until 1972, but this was only possible through a deal she made with the state that gave them part possession in 1951 which became full possession after her death in 1972.
The Château de Candé Today
Fern had hoped that the chateau would one day become a Presidential residence but this was not to be. All the furniture was removed and placed into the care of the Mobilier National that stores state-owned furniture, and much of it was dispersed throughout the Palais de l'Élysée, the Hôtel de Marigny, and the Fort de Brégançon. However, since 2014, the Mobilier National has started to return the original furniture and Fern's principal wish has been respected in that, “the domain is neither divided up nor subdivided, and the château retains a cultural, artistic, academic or high national and regional interest status”. The chateau has been open to the public and a popular tourist destination since 1974.
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