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The family chateaux

The chateau de Nacqueville
« The day before yesterday I visited my brother Hippolyte. They have lavished enough money and taste on Nacqueville to make it one of the most beautiful places in the world. »
(Letter to G. de Beaumont,
August 17, 1857)

Of the three north Cotentin houses that were divided between Hippolyte, Édouard and Alexis de Tocqueville, the chateau de Nacqueville is the only one that had not been owned by the Clérel de Tocqueville family. The chateau, which dated back to the 16th century, was inherited in 1822 by Émilie Erard de Belisle de Saint-Rémy, the future wife of Hippolyte de Tocqueville. It had undergone a number of modifications since its construction, but what changed its appearance the most was the demolition of the very high wall that had, until 1700, enclosed the manor house. Today, all that remains is the postern opposite the main building. After 1700, it was possible to plant gardens around the house, but it took until 1830 and the arrival of Hippolyte de Tocqueville for the necessary work to be carried out. It should be emphasized that at that time, the lanes that led to the chateau were still barely passable, and that the lack of upkeep of the grounds had turned them, in the eyes of Alexis, into a huge "quagmire".
Nevertheless, at the instigation of Hippolyte, a radical transformation took place. His interest in gardens and botany (which most of his family shared) were a help to him in this. He was also aided by an English landscape architect, who designed a romantic park that extended across all three of the small valleys that converged on the chateau, and that cleverly made use of the small streams that ran down them. The road that led to the estate was redrawn so that it ended right at the main house, the garden was planted with many flowering shrubs and exotic plants, and a pond was dug downstream from the chateau in the direction of the sea, which could be seen on the horizon. The streams were turned into cascades of water that enlivened the masses of flowers, and a number of fountains were added to the gardens.
The chateau itself was not spared this prodigious energy: the roof was raised to allow another floor to be added, and the interior was greatly improved, which elicited the admiration of Alexis de Tocqueville every time he paid a visit to Nacqueville.
Although it suffered a great deal of damage in the 20th century due to various storms as well as the Second World War - during which it became a favorite location for American army headquarters - the park at Nacqueville was restored to its 19th century glory, and even today it remains one of the most sumptuous gardens in this part of France.

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Panoramic view

Take a virtual tour of some of the best views of the chateau... Enjoy your tour!

Chateau de Nacqueville

View from the portico

You must have QuickTime installed on your computer in order to view the panoramas on this site.

Slide show: the chateau de Nacqueville

Slide show: the chateau de Nacqueville

Chateau de Nacqueville

Chateau de Nacqueville, anonymous
© AD Manche / Poirier

Chateau de Nacqueville

Chateau de Nacqueville, La Manche © BNF

Chateau de Nacqueville

The area of Cherbourg, chateau de Nacqueville, A. Vilain
© BM de Cherbourg

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