How the Château became a prestige hotel in the Vendée
Traces of prehistoric times are easily discernible within the Boisniard grounds. These blocks are probably fallen megaliths, named “les fesses de Gargantua” (Gargantua’s buttocks), and these carved rocks are reminiscent of “sacrificial stones”.
This is the source of the river Crûme, a tributary of the Sèvre Nantaise.
During the Gallo-Roman period the Boisniard hills were inhabited by druids. A metal-working site and carved rock-crystal artefacts have been found here: including the famous “black diamond” of Cambretaud.
In 1407, the Knight Jehan du Puy du Fou, Lord of Bois-Nyart, had the Château built. The Château’s granite lintels and monumental fireplace date back to this period.
In 1643 the Puy du Fou family sold Boisniard to René Pillot, lord of la Gimmonière at Le Longeron.
Having passed it to the La Guérinière family and later to the Melliers, Boisniard became the property of Charles-Philippe Grelier, Knight of Concise (another estate in Chambretaud) in 1740. A brilliant officer in the Royal Navy, he travelled all over the world and brought back a collection of exotic birds to populate the Boisniard aviaries.
In 1793, the Greliers fought in the Vendée army alongside the Marquis of Rochejacquelein. Boisniard was then to witness devastating times of terror and destruction in a campaign known as the ‘colonnes infernales’. The Château was occupied by a Republican garrison.
In 1804, a General from the Vendée army, Bertrand de Saint-Hubert, bought what remained of the Château du Boisniard and restored it to its current state: one Renaissance-inspired façade with the other in a more medieval style.
In 1852, the owner of the Château Félix de Hargues transferred Boisniard from the municipality of La Verrie to that of Chambretaud.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Château du Boisniard changed hands many times under the ownership of various noble families. These included families named Hillerin du Boistissandeau, de Hargues, Le Tourneur de la Borde, Geloës d’Esloo and Desme de Lisle, whose coat of arms still decorates the ceiling in ‘Mystic’ room 3.
Geneviève de La Borde, née Desme de Lisle, was a great benefactor of the parish of Chambretaud and its new Notre-Dame de la Nativité church, built in 1902. During this time, craftsmen from the Griffon cabinetmakers in Chambretaud sculpted the ‘pleated napkin’ woodwork to be found in the entrance hall of the Château.
Later, the Paul-Cavallier family who owned foundries at Pont-à-Mousson bought Boisniard in 1938 to accommodate their large family during the war. Once peace returned the Paul-Cavaliers returned to Alsace-Lorraine and put the Château du Boisniard in the hands of the ‘Petits Frères des Pauvres’, a charitable organisation providing summer holiday camps.
In 1978, the Château was bought by Maurice Durand, a cabinet-maker from Les Herbiers. He was passionate about wood, trees and the antique books he collected. He delighted in restoring the magnificent grounds into English gardens and turning Boisniard into a luxurious residence. The grilles on the fireplaces are forged from the letters D and N for Durand and Normand, his wife’s maiden name.
In 1989, the Englishman Joseph Haypworth purchased Boisniard and renamed it ‘Château-Joseph’. However, his inexperience in the field of hotel and restaurant management led him to go bankrupt.
Under a court ruling in 1994, Boisniard was handed over to Patrick Bouju from Cholet, who then sold it in December 2004 to Jean-Michel Mousset, a haulage contractor from the Vendée who couldn’t bear to see this beautiful piece of heritage fall into disrepair.
Since 2005, Jean-Michel Mousset’s wife Louisanne Le Corfec, has worked to restore the Château du Boisniard to its original noble state. She has renovated the château’s ten bedrooms, created seven new bedrooms in the Manor, ten new bedrooms in ‘The Houses in the Woods‘ and a new gourmet restaurant named ‘La Table du Boisniard‘. She leads a team of 16 people, working to make Boisniard a leader in the art of French living.
In 2008, the Château du Boisniard became the first four star hotel in the Vendée and Choletais.
In 2012 it was awarded a fifth star.
2011 saw the opening of a new gourmet restaurant named ‘La Table du Boisniard‘ and ten new bedrooms known as ‘The Houses in the Woods‘ . Nestled within the grounds that extend over ten hectares, these houses on stilts create an exceptional experience for your stay: five-star comfort for nature lovers, hidden amongst the age-old trees.
Each room is unique with its own individual design: four-poster beds, carved wood furniture, marble and teak bathrooms, etc.
Guests are invited to make use of the tennis court, heated outdoor pool, gym, swimming pool with steam room, Jacuzzi and beauty centre with resident beautician.
Within the Château gardens, Armorican granite is joined by a lava rock fountain from Borobudur in Indonesia. Exotic birds once more grace the grounds. The spirit of far off lands has returned to the Boisniard.