This magnificent castle has dominated Lake Annecy for over 1,000 years. Its unique architecture makes it comparable to the castles of fairy tales. How to visit it?
A little history
The building was built in the 12th century with only three high square towers which were connected by a walkway. During conflicts, the peasants came to take refuge in the courtyard. During the Renaissance, the castle was modified to become more welcoming, and a façade was built overlooking the lake.
But it was at the end of the 19th century that the castle was transformed. Under the impetus of René de Menthon, its architecture became more romantic and was inspired by the castles of Louis II of Bavaria. It is even said that Walt Disney, visiting Annecy, was inspired by it for the castle of Sleeping Beauty.
It is one of the rare castles to belong to the same family for 1,000 years, the Saint Bernard de Menthon family.
Visit the Château de Menthon
Following the lake shore from Annecy for 10 km, you will pass through Veyrier-du-Lac to park in Allée du Château in Menthon-Saint-Bernard. Visits are possible from 5 April to 15 November for individuals or groups.
- April to June and September to November: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 2 to 6 pm.
- July to August: daily from 12 noon to 7 pm.
- Adults (from 16 years old): 9,50 €.
- Children (from 6 to 16 years old): 5 €.
- Under 6 years old: free
- Garden visits: 2 €.
Remarkable elements of the visit
The fine furniture has been particularly well preserved for centuries. The half-timbered gallery is an example of this type of architecture. A visit to the kitchen reveals a 15-metre long pass-through. The library of 12,000 books predates the French Revolution. The countess’s room is decorated with Aubusson tapestry. And finally the pilgrims’ room is a real curiosity.
The magnificent gardens of the castle are worth a visit. The guided tour of the vegetable garden allows you to discover the orchard and the medicinal patch which work in permaculture.
In 2017, the de Menthon family wants to bring back to life the vineyards that have been planted for centuries. This is an associative project that also involves school classes.
A small restaurant is proposed. The site is not suitable for PRM because of the old stairs.
Since 2019, the Château de Menthon has been organising a contemporary theatre festival. Three plays are performed in the open air on this magnificent site. The performances are followed by a banquet in the gardens. Each year, a cuisine from around the world is honoured. Every evening, contemporary music concerts are held around the castle. Finally, an exhibition of contemporary art can be visited in the Orangery. The festival takes place during the last week of August.Prices: €15 for the show, €12 for dinner and €25 for both.
Les Heures Classiques
Since 2021, this new festival is dedicated to classical music. It is directed by Irène Jolys. Taking place over three days in mid-September, each evening a trio performs works by Schumann, Ravel, Debussy, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Piazzola. A health pass is required and reservations can be made by calling 07 81 74 39 72. Price: 35 € and 20 € for students.