chateau de coudree

Photos courtesy of Château de Coudrée








The first fortress, which was nothing more than a wooden tower, was built on this site in the 6th century. Moats, palisades, and earth embankments helped protect this tower. Because of the lack of elevation, builders had to rely on water to provide defense—the lake on the north side of the property and a moat on the other three sides.

The property first belonged to the abbey of Saint Maurice d’Agaune, and one its priors made his home here. By 1245 the tower had become a massive stone fortress and ownership was now in the hands of the Henri d’Allinges family.

Through the centuries Bernese, Savoyard, and Genevese soldiers laid siege to the castle, inflicting varying amounts of damage. After each siege the castle was rebuilt and its defenses adjusted to account for new styles of warfare: a better drawbridge, staircases to replace clumsy ladders, and a new style of window.

The Bartholoni family took possession of the castle in the 19th century. Prince Louis Bonaparte conferred the position of deputy for the Haute-Savoie on Anatole Bartholoni. His nephew married Louise Grimaldi, a relative of the reigning family of Monaco. He undertook the complete restoration of the castle, rebuilding the walls, gateways, portcullises, and arrow-slit windows. The moats were re-excavated and the interiors decorated in the style of the Italian Renaissance.

Pamela’s Perspective

This elegant castle splendidly situated on the banks of lovely Lake Geneva, is near the French Alps and the spa town of Evian (the popular bottled water comes from here). The château is on the best part of Lake Geneva’s south shore; casinos in many of the nearby towns draw the visitors.

Take note that the castle has no elevator.


Château de Coudrée

A 12th-century castle


74140 Sciez-sur-Léman
Tel: ++33 (0)4 50 72 62 33
Hotel website
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Fast facts

17 rooms and 2 apartments

Double rooms: from 100 euros
Apartments: from 200 euros
Rates include tax and service but not breakfast

Open: December through October

Getting there

Sciez-sur-Léman is on the south shore of Lake Geneva. The nearest train station is 7 km away in Thonon. The hotel is signposted.

What to do

Onsite: tennis; swimming pool
Nearby: golf; water sports; horseback riding; hiking


Yes. Inquire hotel for details.


Coudrée appears as an ivy-clad mansion flanked by two towers and surrounded by a park. But when you pass through the entryway, you’ll feel like you’re entering a small museum.

The castle features Italian painted, coffered, and paneled ceilings. A painting above the fireplace in the François I drawing room is part of a Florentine fresco, while the 16th-century paneling of the hotel bar is of Spanish origin.

Guest rooms and suites are furnished with antiques that include carved canopy beds, Oriental carpets, and roll-top desks. Many are on two levels, with a sitting room or bedroom on the entry level and loft accommodations above.

The grandest room of the hotel is the “donjon” room, located in the tower with an 18-meter ceiling and a canopy bed.

A beautiful wood-beamed ceiling, stone walls, and fireplace provide a medieval ambiance to the dining room.

Something special

curlicueIdyllic location on Lake Geneva