François Coty’s dream
The first edifice was a fortress built on the hilltop (Le Puy): a perfect location during the Hundred Year’s War. If the location was still an asset in 1912, the new owner François Coty, famous perfume magnate, did not approve the incongruous building set over the centuries and successive restorations. He had a new château built, on the model of the château de Champlâtreux in the Val d’Oise (North-West of Paris). François Coty, whose real name was Spoturno, had incredible demands.
The chapel at the entrance of the château was to be an exact copy of the one in Versailles but a quarter of the size. The installations were grandiose: the washbasins were in marble and the kitchen sinks in copper, the floors were in multicoloured marble, the woodwork was carved from the block and the capitals of the columns were decorated with ivy leaves, acanthus, laurel, etc.
The kitchen was in white marble, the pastry room in pink and green marble and the linen room on two floors had 140 cupboards in citron wood or Macassar ebony inlaid with mother of pearl… Building work began in 1912 and ended in 1929. However, François Coty did not live there very long since he died in 1934.
On his death, the château was sequestered by his many creditors. During the Second World War, it was occupied in succession by the general staff of the Ministry of the Navy, German troops until 1942, and it was an annex of the Tours Hospital until 1946. Christiane Coty, the perfumer’s daughter, inherited it in 1947.
Became an hotel in 1961
In 1959, René Traversac, founder of the Grandes Etapes Françaises, had only one property: the ” Prieuré ” near Saumur. But he took a liking to the hotel management and tried to acquire a second location. Château d’ Artigny, overlooking the valley of the Indre, was to let and he decided to purchase it. A great adventure began which was to chair, a few years later, the nascent chain of “Châteaux Hôtels de France” and to actively participate in its merger with the “Relais de Campagne” into the “Relais et Châteaux ” in 1975.
Château d’ Artigny converted into a luxury hotel (with, among others, the talent of the designer Pierre Scapula) opened its doors in March 27, 1961.
The rotunda, masterpiece of the Castle
The castle’s masterpiece is undoubtly the rotunda of the fist floor.
This reception room with high windows overlooking the Indre valley and open to the former office of François Coty is crowned at 9.20 m height by a dome painted with a breathtaking trompe l’oeil fresco. This hyper-realistic painting (oil on mounted canvas) which dominates the audience is signed by Charles Hoffbauer. It evokes a costume ball at the castle. Many friends and relatives of François Coty are reunited there, painted life-size. François Coty had met the painter Charles Hoffbauer, a specialist in mural frescoes, in the United States. He entrusted him with the realization of his project as much by recognition for his talent as a painter as by a desire to give him a helping hand. From 1922 to 1924, Charles Hoffbauer worked for 2 years on the fresco.