Many river ships sailing the Seine River like the Avalon Tapestry II stopover in Vernon and/or Les Andelys to allow guests to do a half-day shore excursion to either the house and garden of Claude Monet at Giverny or to Bizy Castle, which has been nicknamed "Normandy's Versailles" because of its large stable and gardens.
Exploring the castle and grounds with a local guide is very interesting, and sometimes the current owner, who is in her late 80's, emerges from her private rooms in the castle to say hello to the tourists. She is the daughter of the 5th Duke of Albufera. Her family is descended from a brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the castle has letters, paintings, and sculptures related to the Bonaparte family on exhibit.
Bizy Castle is found in the outskirts of Vernon, and the Jubert family has owned the land since the 14th century. The neo-classical style manor house seen in the photo above dates back to the mid-19th century, but the stables are almost 200 years older.
Bizy Castle Stables
Many think the Bizy Castle stables resemble those at the Palace of Versailles near Paris. The Bizy Stables were designed and built in 1741 by architect Contant d'Ivry for the Duke of Belle Isle.
Bizy Castle Stables and Horse Wading Pool
Horses get hot too, and this foot bath pool was used by the horses to cool off. Can't you just imagine them walking around in the cool water while the guests all dressed in their finery looked on?
Horse Carriage in the Bizy Castle Stable
The stables at Bizy Castle have a good collection of six horse carriages from the 19th century that were once used at the castle.
Bizy Castle Orangerie
Orangeries were frequently seen in mansions of the 17th to 19th century. They were often used as a conservatory or a greenhouse. The orangery at Bizy Castle is a large room with many windows. It is decorated with the heads of boar and other wildlife killed on the grounds of the castle when it was used as a hunting lodge.
Bizy Castle Grand Salon
The Grand Salon at Bizy Castle is a gorgeous room, with tapestries on the walls and ornate furnishings. Its centerpiece is a piano built by Sebastian Erard.
Sebastian Erard was a famous French instrument maker of the 18th and 19th centuries. This piano was brought to the Bizy Castle in 1855. Its design includes vernis Martin, a type of French lacquer. Visitors to the castle are allowed to play the piano if they wish. One woman on our tour was thrilled to have a chance to play on this historic instrument.
Bust of Napoleon Bonaparte
Since the owners of Bizy Castle are descendants of the Bonaparte family, it's not surprising to see this bust of Napoleon in the castle.
Portrait Gallery Room at Bizy Castle
The portrait gallery at Bizy Castle is filled with paintings of many of the past owners of the castle and their families.
Bizy Castle Formal Dining Room
Those who tour Bizy Castle are treated to an exhibit of some of the fine china used at the chateau. The tablecloth and napkins were embroidered by the current owner of the castle.
Gnarled Tree on the Grounds of Bizy Castle
Bizy Castle sits in the middle of a large park area, with trees, grassy lawn areas, and gardens. This old tree is spectacular and was damaged in a storm, but still lives.
Bizy Castle Garden
The Bizy Castle Garden has some mysterious places like this one near the maze.