2 kilometres west of Azay-le-Rideau, you enter l’Islette through a gate that dates from 1638 set between two square turrets.
The Château sits on the left bank of the river Indre, a bridge crosses the river’s largest part, from which you can see the ancient mill that parts the water. Originally it was no doubt a so-called ‘banal’ or communal mill, one which estate workers were obliged to use to grind their wheat, naturally paying the lord a fee.
The name “Islette” (small island) naturally evokes water’s presence, an indissociable element of the place’s beauty, that’s also reflected in the stone, the foliage and the sky.
The main building is a long rectangle with three floors flanked by two impressive towers. The château’s architecture and waterside location are reminiscent of the Château d’Azay-Le–Rideau.
The two châteaux have similar facades. The same two rows of mouldings between the two levels, similar-sized mullioned windows decorated with a scroll at the centre of the lintels and the same crown of machicolations (murder holes).
The similarities were even more striking before the early 19th century, when for financial reasons, the moat was blocked up, the gables above the windows were cut down and the towers shortened, as we see it today.
The main door used to be a drawbridge, and still bears the groove marks. It is crowned with a finely sculpted relief, representing the Barjot de Roncée family coat of arms held aloft by two Renaissance angels.
On the ground floor of the East Tower, recent restorations in the ogive-arched chapel revealed painted murals and a vault scattered with stars.
Once through the Guardroom, you reach a wide, stone spiral staircase leading to the first floor “The Noble Floor”, and on up to the higher floors, in particular the attic with its roof shaped like an upturned boat hull.
The château’s current owners live here, so it is furnished as a place of residence.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall, which is 15m long by 9m wide, is on the first floor. It boasts a remarkable early 17th century pictorial decoration. The decorations cover the entire ceiling and plinths where you can see elegant bouquets of flowers, bucolic scenes and the huge fireplace.
The top of the walls is decorated with a frieze representing the union between the Carman and Maillé families. There is also an inscription near the fireplace that reads:
«Here lie the wedding bands of the Carman lords from the time when François Léon, the youngest son of the Count of Léon, married Béatrix, heiress of the Carman family, thus taking the name and coat of arms of the aforementioned house, and shared the title of Lord of Léon with his brother, later raised to an Earldom»
The Indre, which crosses the park, its old mill, the park of 100-year-old trees…all are invitations to stroll and relax. Take a boat trip, enjoy a cold drink, a tea or a coffee on a terrace beside the Indre, read in a deckchair, or enjoy a family picnic beside the river.