His­tory-lover's Heaven 4 Châteaux in the re­gion

Bordeaux J'Adore - - ◆ —— Graves-sauternes —— ◆ - CLARE O’HA­GAN

◆ Château de Cazeneuve, 33730, Préchac

If you were for se­duced by the film, La Reine Mar­got, then you must visit the res­i­dence of the Kings of Navarre. The first of his dy­nasty to be crowned King of France, Henri IV (1553-1610) resided here with his es­tranged wife Queen Mar­guerite of Valois. Mar­got, a piv­otal fig­ure in the French Wars of re­li­gion, al­legedly fre­quented the grot­toes in the gorge be­neath the cas­tle for assig­na­tions with lovers. The Chateau de Cazeneuve was re­built in the 14th Cen­tury, and then again in 17th but re­tains its orig­nal moat, and crenel­lated walls. Book the wine-par­ing lunch in ad­vance, the cel­lar is well-stocked with wines from the neigh­bour­ing Sauternes.

◆ Château de Cadil­lac des Ducs D’eper­non, 33410, Cadil­lac-sur-garonne

In 1581, the town of Eper­non was sold by Henry III of France to Jean-louis de Nog­a­ret de la Val­l­lette, one of his in­ti­mate friends, who he cre­ated the Duke of Eper­non. De Nog­a­ret built his grandiose chateau here in the 17th Cen­tury, and spared no ex­pense in fit­ting it out. The Cadil­lac ta­pes­tries so are ex­cep­tional, some now hang in The Lou­vre. In the 19th Cen­tury, the chateau be­came a wom­ens’ prison. There is an ex­cel­lent mu­seum chron­i­cling not only the res­i­dency of the dukes, but also the lives of the pris­on­ers.

Since pre-his­toric times hu­mans have sought the pro­tec­tion of cliffs and caves when on the move and in hid­ing from their en­e­mies. En route to the Pyre­nees, Charle­magne carved the first for­ti­fi­ca­tions here out of the rock in the 10th Cen­tury. The sec­ond cas­tle, in mint con­di­tion today dates from the early 14th Cen­tury. Large win­dows re­placed ar­row slits in the 17th Cen­tury, il­lu­mi­nat­ing new dec­o­ra­tive de­tails, such as the mag­nif­i­cent re­nais­sance chim­ney places. Ro­que­tail­lade was sump­tously re­fur­bished again in 1810 by Eu­gene Vi­ol­let le Duc, a cel­e­brated ar­chi­tect of the time.

◆ Château de Ro­que­tail­lade, 33210, Mazères Château la Brède, La Brède, 33650

This impressive Gothic Cas­tle built in the early C14th with a moat on all sides, has been mod­i­fied many times. But two rooms are un­touched - the li­brary and bed­room of the em­i­nent French lawyer-philoso­pher known as Mon­tesquieu. Charles Louis de Se­con­dat, Baron de La Brède et de Mon­tesquieu, lived here for most of his life from 1689-1755. Dur­ing the En­light­en­ment he pi­o­neered many of the ideas cen­tral to mod­ern democ­racy, such as the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers. He’s said to have had more in­flu­ence than any­one on the Found­ing Fa­thers while they de­lib­er­ated over the Con­sti­tu­tion.


Cazeneuve Cas­tel.


Wine road at the Ro­que­tail­lade Vil­lan­draut Cas­tel.

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