Château de Chabassière

The Château de Chabassière is located in the Creuse region of France. It is located on mount Chabassière over looking the town of Aubusson. This abandoned château holds an amazing secret, one that will tug at everyone’s heart strings.

Alfred Roseleur

Château de Chabassièr was built for the industrialist, chemist and inventor Alfred Roseleur (1820-1881). He was a master of electroplating and the emerging techniques of electrolysis and electrometallurgy. He wrote a particularly accomplished work, which was considered a definitive reference during the 19th and 20th century. His techniques and recipes still survive today.

Alfred was born in the Charente, (Limoges) and made his fortune from products used in gilding, silvering, electroplating and photography. Between 1878 and 1881, Alfred served as the mayor and general councilor of Aubusson until his death.

Les Ballons de Gravilliers – Love Story

In certain circles The Gravilliers Balloons is a very popular story. Most post card collectors, pigeon enthusiasts and romanticists in the Creuse will have probably heard of this story.

During 1870 France was at war with Prussia. When Paris was seized, Alfred Roseleur was imprisoned. In order to communicate with his wife Léonie at Château de Chabassière in Aubusson he would to attach letters to children balloons. He would release the balloons from the balcony of his apartment.

Alfred’s apartment was in the 3rd Borough of Paris at 23 Rue des Gravilliers, hence the name “Ballons de Gravilliers”.

From September 18th, 1870 to the end of November and then from end the December to the end of the siege; a total of 136 days. Alfred wrote to Léonie Roseleur almost daily as they were madly in love. Sometimes he would even write two letters per day. The first letter being sent by balloon relying on luck and the second being delivered by hand.

Inside the envelopes was a 20 centimes stamp and the message, “à remettre à la poste de France” – to be delivered to the nearest French post office. So far, around 22 (unconfirmed) of these famous letters have been found and form the so-called Gravilliers collection.

Each balloon was numbered. In total there were 90 letters, with many of the letters lost to bad weather and the natural surroundings.

Replicating Balloon de Gravilliers with an Experiment

We tied a post card sized 180gm piece of paper to a party balloon and released it from our attic window (approx 12m from ground). There was a very slight breeze. It fell like a lead balloon. This suggests Alfred must have used some form of gas in his balloons such as helium. Alfred was a Chemist. He might also have used a lighter weight paper. Maybe some letters were sent by pigeons? After all, he was a pigeon enthusiast and it was Paris. Food for thought….

These are the genuine letters sent by Alfred Roseleur to his wife Léonie at Château de Chabassière in Aubusson. They are priceless and would change hands at auction for undisclosed amounts.

History of Château de Chabassière

In 1860 Alfred acquired the land on Chabassière hill (west Aubusson). The construction of the castle started in 1863 and finished in 1865. This date is still visible on a medallion on the main facade. In 1868, the painter Corot began working at the Château, sketching Aubusson, and Château surroundings.

In 1949, according to Ministère de la Reconstruction et de l´Urbanisme, Château de Chabassière still had all it’s land and probably existed more or less as Alfred would have known it.

Abandoned Château

By the 1960’s, the land had begun to be subdivided and sold off. By the 1980’s the Château was abandoned so it was no wonder that in 2006 it was subject to suspected arson. A massive fire ravaged the building destroying virtually the entire roof. Even some of the walls collapsed. This was the final curtain for this the once quirky and wonderfully, eclectically eccentric château.

Now, this château is in a dire state, there are mature trees growing through collapsed floors and most of the walls leaning and are about to tumble. The once famous dove cote has lost most of it’s tiles and is also starting to crumble. In a couple of years there will be little left of this once majestic building.

Old Post Cards

The Chapel

The whole château is an eclectic collection of pastiche styles, no more so than in the south tower. A neo- gothic chapel, with fake medieval wall paintings and arched ceiling. The windows and door surrounds are done in a semi-Greek style. Once there were caryatids supports in the ceremonial rooms on the ground leading to the Chapel. Sadly now they are gone and just the cut-outs remain. The wooden floorboards have collapsed exposing the basement underneath. Remains of a spiral staircase still exist, however it’s in very poor condition.


In the internal courtyard is a once spectacular but now crumbling dovecote popular with pigeon enthusiasts. Many of the bright colours are still visible but are now beginning to fade rapidly. The stucco plaster is falling from the plaster lintels and will be gone within just one or two seasons. The ivy has taken a real hold and is deep set into the brickwork. Hazel trees are now lifting the remains of the roof off. On the ground around the base are many broken slates.

Photo : May 2023


Château de Chabassière has a large rectangular plan and is built on a large and deep basement. Sadly the wooden floors to the basement have collapsed and nature has taken hold with mature trees now growing through the entire house to above the roof line. The basement would have sunk into the hill forming a terrace level. From this terrace would have been two staircases leading to a large lawn. The large lawn is still well maintained and leads straight onto a modern housing estate and car park.

The Front Terrace


SystemDatumX Co-ordinateY Co-ordinate
Longitude latitudeWGS8445° 57′ 19.38961″N2° 9′ 34.573799″E
Longitude latitudeWGS8445.95538600271412.15960383310233
UTM coordinates WGS8431T34873.9745089433.918
MGRS / UTMREFWGS8431TDL34873.97489433.918
NAC (Natural Area Coding)WGS84H5CZ37 QMR973
W3W (What 3 Words)Englishcorrelation.fibbing.contributed
W3W (What 3 Words)Frenchfinançant.comblant.calcaire
Plus Code (google Open Location Code)8FQ4X545+5R
WSG84 Web MercatorEPSG 3857Château de Chabassière, Rue de la Chabassière, Aubusson, Creuse, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, 23200, France


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