© Antoine Mercusot



The Château de Bénouville was built between 1769 and 1785 by the visionary Enlightenment architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, at the request of the Marquis de Livry, to provide a sumptuous mansion and private reception venue. This work, which introduced neo-classical architecture to Normandy, is set in a large, wooded park, bordered since the mid-19th century by a canal connecting the city of Caen to the sea.

The château was in a poor state of repair at the beginning of the 20th century. It was bought by the Calvados General Council in 1927 and turned into a maternity home to accommodate single mothers and their children. When the home closed in 1983, the Regional Audit Chamber of Lower Normandy rented the premises and remained in the building until 2015. The property has been listed as a historic monument since 1930.

© Antoine Mercusot
© Antoine Mercusot

The Château de Bénouville is one of the few remaining examples of the private mansions built by the architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux

© Chatillon Architectes
© Chatillon Architectes

In 2022, the department of Calvados decided to give the Domaine de Bénouville a new lease of life in order to develop a new, significant cultural project for the territory, with the intention of making the estate accessible to as many people as possible. The restructuring and extension project, which was awarded to Chatillon Architectes in 2023, involves restoring and redesigning the château and the surrounding parkland, as well as creating a visitor car park and a new building for logistics and storage purposes on an adjacent plot of land.

© Antoine Mercusot

The project will make it possible to explore the restored château, as well as to create visitor trails that will link interpretive centers and areas for permanent and temporary exhibits. The reception and ticket office will be accommodated in the chapel adjacent to the château. Facilities to encourage interdisciplinarity and exchanges, such as a café in the orangery and spaces for artists in residence or for co-working, will be set up in the outbuildings. The château’s park will be restored and redesigned as a free, open space for people to stroll, take a break, play games, visit and discover the area, and for hosting special events. A summer refreshment stand will be set up along the canal.

© Chatillon Architectes
© Chatillon Architectes

To facilitate access to the site and help preserve it, the project includes a remote visitor car park, access for sustainable transportation along the canal and the creation of two new entrances to the park to the north and south. For people with reduced mobility, it is planned to have a drop-off point at the entrance of the park, and restricted parking spaces will be made available immediately next to the château. This project is strongly committed to a high environmental quality approach, which covers everything from a low-impact construction site to the future operation of the site (studies on fauna, flora, groundwater, noise pollution, accessibility, recycling of rainwater, choice of low-impact materials, etc.).

When it reopens in 2027, the Château de Bénouville will become a true cultural incubator, a venue that will welcome Calvados residents and visitors alike, and where the Department's cultural activities (archaeology, performing and visual arts, heritage and head office) will benefit from exceptional working tools, to better meet the expectations of the territories and the changes in cultural practices.

© Antoine Mercusot
Project type
Restructuring and extension
Project owner
Department of Calvados
Chatillon Architectes (mandataire), Designer Unit (scenographer), Louis Benech (landscaper)
13 M€ HT