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Chambord château fights for own ‘French heritage’ name

The Château de Chambord (Loir-et-Cher, Centre-Val de Loire) may not be allowed to use its own name on its own bottles of wine, after an American manufacturer has contested the rights to it.

Three years ago, the château began to plant vines as a bid to maintain the grounds of the property.

The vines were also planted in the traditional style to honour King François (Francis) I, who ruled France from 1515 to his death in 1547, and used the château as a hunting lodge.

But now, American firm Brown-Forman is arguing that the château should not be allowed to use the name Chambord on any of its wines or products.

Brown-Forman already produces a liqueur under this name, which - the company alleges - could be confused with wine from the château.

Jean d'Haussonville, director of the Chambord domaine has branded the American company as exploitative, saying that they are effectively stealing a name that has significant meaning in France.

He said: “The fight for [the name of] Chambord is a fight for the whole of our country. [Knife brand] Laguiole has also had a similar problem. Across the world, companies are able to take a name that plays a significant role in French heritage, and exploit it.”

He added: “Do we want others to be able to use a symbol of our country, and be allowed to exploit it?”

The château de Chambord is in the style of French Renaissance architecture, and is the largest château in the Loire Valley.

It was built as a hunting lodge for King François I. Construction took almost 30 years to be completed between 1519 and 1547.

After the French Revolution, some of its furnishings were sold and it remained abandoned for some years, although some restoration began in the 19th century.

The site now acts as a tourist centre and art gallery, housing artworks from the Louvre in Paris and the Château de Compiègne in Oise (Hauts-de-France). It now attracts well over 700,000 visitors per year.

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