La Grande Maison D’Arthenay B&B, Bed & Breakfast, Maison d'Hotes and Wine Tours is not only a tranquil place to stay but it is also fascinating to visit. Originally a fortified farm and wine estate in the 17th century, the property was built on the site of the first Chateau Boumois. The chateau however suffered badly from fire during the 100 years war (1337-1453).
In the 17th century La Grande Maison B&B, Bed and Breakfast and Chambres d'Hotes was owned by Gilles Louis Antoine Aubert du PETIT THOUARS & Marie Gohin, dame de Boumois and Arthenay who then owned the second Chateau Boumois on the south bank of the Loire near Saumur. This beautiful chateau can be visited today and contains many works of Renaissance Art, a pigeon tower “fuye” and chapel with the tombs of their sons, Aristide and Aubert.
Arisitde Du Petit-Thouars participated in the American War of Independence 1779-83 and later sailed to Botany Bay, Australia in search of the lost French explorer La Perouse. He captained the ship The Tonnant in the campaign of Egypt with Napoleon Bonaparte but was killed in the naval battle of Aboukir on the 5th August 1798. During his time in the USA (c. 1794) Aristide Du Petit-Thouars was also involved in the construction of about thirty houses on a site called Azilum in Philadelphia. An enterprise promoted by the financier and Senator of Pennsylvania, Robert Morris. Amongst the buildings was one referred to as La Grande Maison, and later as “The Queen’s House”, in the hope that Marie Antoinette and her children would escape from France and come to occupy it.
Aubert Du Petit-Thouars was also born at Chateau Boumois and was obviously more of a pacifist specialising in botany and a herbist of 2,000 exotic plants. He became Director of La Pepiniere du Route a Paris and was a member of the Academy of Sciences. It is said that he also sailed with his brother to Botany Bay in his exploration of plant life.
The pigeon tower "fuye" at La Grande Maison d’Arthenay B&B, Bed and Breakfast, Chambres d'Hotes and Wine Tours is not as big as that at Chateau Boumois but is a rare example of a “fuye” sous sol. Extending underground by some 10 metres and 7 metres above ground. The tunnel from the “fuye” leads to a spectacular 14th century wine cave where you can still see the remains of the old wine press and barrels. Many of the other tunnels have the names and dates of soldiers carved out in the tuffeau walls where they hid during the 1st World War.
The partially hidden trogolodyte chapel at the end of the gardens of La Grande Maison B&B, Bed and Breakfast, Chambres d'Hotes and Wine Tours also point to the origins of a chateau on this site. As the original Chateau Boumois would have had it’s own chapel at that time. Circa 14th – 15th Century.