The current buildings of the castle were built on the site of an older building whose primitive construction could date back to the 13th century.
This plain castle occupies a strategic position south of the Champagne region, opposite Burgundy.
Transferred by the Bishop of Langres to the Saulx family around 1530, it became a rare and emblematic example of the Renaissance in Champagne.
The Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes family
Son of Jean de Saulx and Marguerite de Tavannes, Gaspard was named page of François 1er at the age of 14. He soon followed the king to Italy, alongside whom he fought with great courage. Back in France, he never stopped continuing the war against the empire of Charles V. A tough, courageous and tireless soldier, his decisiveness often made the difference. When the wars of religion broke out, he fought alongside the Catholics. In 1570 he was appointed Marshal of France and in 1572, Admiral of the Seas of the Levant and Governor of Provence. A year later, he died in his castle in Sully.
Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes inherited Château du Pailly from his father, whom he readily describes as a "nasty house". In 1563, afflicted by the death of his eldest son, he made the medieval fortress a jewel of Renaissance architecture, as he had been dazzled in his youth by Italian palaces.
Château du Pailly remained in the Saulx-Tavannes family until 1764. It had several owners until it was bought in 1821 by Jean-François Moreau du Breuil who undertook to restore it.
The Moreau du Breuil family
Born in Langres in 1774, Jean-François Moreau du Breuil de Saint-Germain went into exile on the island of Tobago (Lesser Antilles), where he made his fortune. He returned to France and bought the Château du Pailly in 1821. The property went to his son Thomas, member of the General Council of Haute-Marne, then to his grandson Albert, who was also a member of the General Council and deputy of Haute-Marne.
Albert Moreau du Breuil de Saint-Germain had two sons: Jean, who died in action in 1915, and Pierre.
In 1921, the castle was classified as a historic monument, then it was sold in 1936 to the Mutuelles Agricoles de l'Est. It became state property in 1963.
The Architecture of the Château du Pailly
Its plans date back to the 14th century: trapezoidal enclosure, water ditches, dungeon and circular corner towers. The walls of the rectangular keep with rustic bosses are thick, no less than two meters.
The works undertaken by Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes integrate the magnificence of the Renaissance, but while retaining defensive aspects: drawbridges, canons ... The main architect could have been Nicolas Ribonnier, architect of the Duchy of Burgundy an active architect in the region.
The Château du Pailly today consists of three wings forming a U. It is dominated by a keep that is visibly older than the other parts of the castle. The exterior facades are those of a fortified castle, although large windows were later installed. Water-filled moats once surrounded the building on all four sides; three corners of the castle are confined to circular towers while at the west corner a Renaissance pavilion was the main entrance to the building. The existence of a fourth wing closing the courtyard can be confirmed by both the uprooting remaining at its ends and by the excavations which have brought to light its foundations. The three facades visible from the interior courtyard are clearly differentiated: the facade with the northwest balcony which connects the galleries to the southwest and the staircase pavilion to the northeast which contrasts strangely with the keep to which it is attached.
The castle does not lack majesty or originality and seems to have been largely modified. Was the castle covered with Italian terraces? It has the characteristic of being vaulted upstairs. Such a constructive system seems absurd in the Langres region with its harsh climate. However, the various inventories and archaeological descriptions allow us to suppose a cover in flat stones.
The castle was ransacked during the Revolution and experienced many unpleasant changes before the Du Breuil family of Saint-Germain carried out work on the northeast wing, the turret with openwork on the courtyard and certain chimneys.