29 Culture Thonon-les-Bains, Château de Ripaille
Inhabited since ancient times, Ripaille was claimed as a hunting area by the Counts of Savoy in the 13th century and became their preferred residence from the 14th century. In 1434, the first Duke of Savoy and future pope, Amédée VII., built the castle. Of its 7 original towers, only 4 remain today. Originally planned as spiritual retreat for the medieval “high society”, Ripaille became the vibrant cultural centre of Savoy, then a leading European state. It was known as meeting point and place of intellectual exchange for famous writers, musicians, and other artists with the nobility, even the emperor. After the Reformation Wars, Ripaille was transformed into a Carthusian convent, secluded from the outer world by its thick walls. After the French Revolution, General Dupas, a citizen of Evian, bought the mansion when retiring from the Napoleonian Wars.
In 1892, Frédéric Engel-Gros acquired the decaying ruins and, directed by famous architect Charles Schulé, the castle underwent a 10-year period of reconstruction and restoration resulting in the appearance it still has today. The side buildings were left as close to their original state as possible, whereas the badly damaged castle was completely renovated in a remarkable style mix of medieval and Art Nouveau elements. The castle was also conceived as a kind of “over-sized jewel case” for presenting Frédéric Engel-Gros’ famous collection of arts and crafts.
His descendants, the Necker-Engels, still own most of the Ripaille Mansion. In 1976 Mrs. Harold Necker-Engel set up the Ripaille Foundation in order to manage and preserve the historic heritage.
Thanks to a donation of Mrs. Harold Necker-Engel, the castle of Duke Amédée VII. of Savoy is since 1976 the seat of a Foundation of recognized public interest. The Ripaille Foundation’s purpose is to manage and preserve the historic, artistic and natural treasures of the Ripaille Mansion and to create a place to promote a better relationship between man and environment.
Following this track, the foundation hosts numerous cultural events such as exhibitions, concerts, and book fairs. There are also organized visits to the mansion, led by certified guides.
The situation of Ripaille Castle in the magnificent Lake Geneva region, the grand surroundings, and its easy accessibility by plane, train or car make the Foundation an ideal place for meetings, seminars, and receptions that will be appreciated by every guest.
Guided tours in English, German, Bulgarian, or Russian on reservation.
Description of services and / or proposed infrastructure
Restaurant, bar, wine store, souvenir shop, conference room, rooms for exhibitions and classical concerts.