An elegant 18th century chateau, a magnificent 60 hectare wooded park, terraces running down to a wonderful mirror of water… The surroundings are planted to bring surprise after surprise!
The first surprise is the chateau itself, standing at the end of a spotlessly maintained grand avenue, and it is easy to imagine the great personages from Louis XV’s court arriving by coach for a break or a hunting party.
Built in 1854 for the Terray brothers, it’s a country residence that today still evokes the 18th century’s refined atmosphere and art of living. Inside, the rooms furnished with valuable furniture and decorated with superb bouquets of flowers, still appear to be inhabited. This is not surprising: the Marquise de Maillé, the chateau’s last owner, bequeathed the chateau to the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (National Monuments Centre) on condition that “visitors could feel a presence there”.
The second surprise awaits you in the park. Just understand: a “Tilletum”, i.e. a collection of limes, comprising 73 different species has been created there in collaboration with the Office National des Forêts. Its purpose? A contribution to the conservation of the plant heritage. But why choose the lime? Any tree species would have done just as well. Well simply put, in old French, the name Motte-Tilly means a stronghold (motte) where many lime trees (Tilly) grow. Since the first plantations started in 2005, new varieties have been added each year. Who would have imagined that so many sorts existed? And then this tree’s properties are numerous: its flowers are used in perfumery and pharmacy (everyone knows our grandmothers’ wonderful herbal tea), lime honey is especially appreciated by enthusiasts, its wood, soft and easy to work, is used in cabinetmaking, toys and fibre panels, and its inner bark has been used in rope making since neolithic times. This tree is present in all periods of our history: in Egypt for example, the Fayum sarcophagi were made from lime, in Gaul, the lime was the traditional tree at the centre of the village under which justice was dispensed: in its shade, apparently, truth saw the light of day. It is not surprising that in 2010 this collection of lime trees received Collection agréée CCVS (Conservatoire des Collections Végétales Spécialisées / Conservatory of Specialist Plant Collections) recognition.
Finally, the third surprise, and not the least, the festival that follows: the Fête du Tilleul lime festival! It takes place on the last weekend in June, alongside the village festival, under the patronage of Saint Pierre and Saint Paul. On 25 June this year, for the 4th consecutive year, artists, artisans associations and artistic studios, that is approximately 60 exhibitors, took over the pathways to promote their know-how or their activities, against a musical background provided by the Blouses Brothers band, the Paris VI medical fanfare. Of course, all in honour of the lime tree: ONF staff gave all the explanations, the writer Sophie Tellier told the story of the Tilletum and lime flowers were placed in a cart, so that everyone passing by could fill a small bag! A very well attended festival since once more, a thousand visitors squeezed in. For the occasion, the ground floor of the chateau housed sculptures and furnishings by the designer Yann Philippe.
So, a word of advice, put the 5th Lime Festival 2017 in your diaries now. It’s the last Sunday in June. And while waiting, take advantage of next weekend to slip off to the Nogent region to visit the chateau, gardens and orangerie. There’s no doubting it, you’ll be delighted!
Open every day except Monday
From 15 May to 15 September:
From 16 September to 14 May:
Closes at 17.00
Full rate: 5.50 €
Reduced rate: 4.50 €
Free for the under 18s
- Cabaret evening on Saturday, 08 October at 20.30: “A journey through the night in the Roaring Twenties”.
- Tales for young people on Sunday, 27 November, 15.30
For children from 6 to 12 years, “Holidays at the chateau” event.
- Saturday, 23 July: from Versailles to La Motte Tilly, two dresses for Mrs Terray. The child becomes a dress merchant.
- Saturday, 30 July, initiation into the art of fishing.
- Saturday, 13 August: A table for young gourmets
- Saturday, 20 August: a summer notebook, a drawing promenade around the chateau.