Build around 1529, the Hotel Berthelot was named after its founder René Berthelot, whose initials “RB” are engraved on the facade of the main building, towards the court. His coat of arms is also sculpted on the front door lintel of the stairwell and also on a skylight pediment toward the garden.
René Berthelot was born into a family from a region between Loudun, Thouars and Poitiers. He held important offices in the city of Poitiers. A law graduate, he was elected alderman on the 3rd of November 1517 and became mayor of Poitiers in 1529.
The Hotel is situated between a court and a garden, located between the rue de la Chaîne and the rue des Carmélites.
The main access to the building is situated on the rue de la Chaîne, after a carriage door and a long, narrow court. The bottom of the latter is occupied by a long building in Renaissance style and a modern wing that closes off the court in the south-east. There is a garden behind the main building.
The Hotel Berthelot has an irregular plan which consists of a rectangular main building with its large facades facing both west and east, and several components added to the north and south-facing sides that form an overhang.
To the south-east, there is a right-angled pavilion sheltering a spiral staircase.
To the east, in the court, the only original building is the southernmost span, the three others are copies added at the beginning of the 20th century. The south span is made up of three windows (including one skylight) placed one above the other.
A pediment that covers the whole gable sits on top of the skylight. It has a scalloped rampant crowned with a shell, the pediment and the shell cushioned by candelabras put on pedestals. The pediment is adorned with two busts emerging from a medallion and a heraldic sign (illegible) placed inside a crown made of leaves and fruit from which ribbons slip.
The stairwell door is inscribed between two base pilasters. It is delimited by a molded frame with three faces and by a lintel enlivened with a hook made of sculpted greenery. The pilasters are decorated with semi-medallions bedecked with acanthi and support composite capitals. They bear an architectural order, inspired from an entablature with an architrave, a frieze and a cornice adorned in Greek style. The frieze is sculpted with Berthelot’s coat of arms, inscribed on a piece of leather held by two little mermaids whose tails end at extremely delicate rinceaux. On the sides are sculpted the busts of a man and a woman, hair done and dressed in the style of François Ist. They are usually identified as René Berthelot and his wife Jeanne d’Ausseure.
The building and its different exterior pavilions were built in local limestone rubble, considering that cut stone was reserved for bay window frames.