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The family chateaux

The chateau de Tourlaville
« Every literary tourist who comes to Cherbourg writes of nothing but Tourlaville and its legends. »
(Letter to Édouard,
September 23, 1858)

Tocqueville inherited it in 1777 and later passed it on to his son, the Tourlaville estate had already acquired a formidable reputation. It was part of the royal land holdings until François I sold it for budgetary reasons in the mid-16th century. In 1562, after passing through the hands of various owners, the property of Jean de Ravalet, the abbé of Hambye. Along with his brother Jacques, Ravalet began the construction of the current chateau, which was the scene of a tragic event in the early 17th century. It was in this chateau that the incestuous love affair took place between Julien de Ravalet and his sister Marguerite, which ended in both lovers being decapitated at Paris's Place de Grève on December 2, 1603. The story of this young pair, who were said to be miraculously beautiful, and whose tenderness towards each other had its roots in their earliest childhood, rapidly made Tourlaville a legendary spot. In his correspondence, Alexis de Tocqueville notes that the chateau - which remained uninhabited for many years after these events - still drew tourists coming to Cotentin in the early 19th century. When Alexis traveled to the chateau in 1833 for the first time, to discover the property that his brother Édouard (who had been promised the chateau de Tourlaville since his marriage) wanted to trade for the Tocqueville estate, his opinion was unequivocal: the surroundings pleased him greatly, but the chateau was completely uninhabitable.   play sound extractlire l'extrait sonore  

Chateau de Tourlaville

Chateau de Tourlaville, A. Vilain
© BM de Cherbourg

Chateau de Tourlaville

Chateau de Tourlaville © BM de Cherbourg

He preferred the chateau de Tocqueville, and left Édouard the magnificent, re-emerging Tourlaville estate. Édouard, for his part, was much more comfortably installed with his large family at Baugy than he could hope to be at Tourlaville, only began renovations in 1859, and barely lived in this chateau. The refurbishments to the main building and the surrounding grounds were carried on by his sons Hubert and René, who inherited the chateau, and these were considerable, as we can see from the various engravings that were done at various points during the estate's transformation.
The chateau de Tourlaville left the hands of the Clérel de Tocqueville family in the early 20th century. In 1935, it became the property of the city of Cherbourg, which turned the chateau's park into a splendid public garden.

See the map

Panoramic view

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

View from the garden

View from the garden

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

Slide show: the chateau de Tourlaville

Slide show: the chateau de Tourlaville

Chateau de Tourlaville

Chateau de Tourlaville near Cherbourg
© BM de Cherbourg

Chateau de Tourlaville (before its transformation)

Chateau de Tourlaville (before its transformation), Coll. privée © AD Manche / A. Poirier

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