CHAR­TREUSES AND COUNTRY HOUSES

Bordeaux Moments - - Le Lieu / A Place -

The land­scape of Bor­deaux’s sur­roun­dings- com­po­sed of the sto­ny hil­l­tops of Graves, the ar­gi­lo-cal­ca­reous hil­ls of En­tre­deux-mers and the gra­vel­ly earth of the Mé­doc- pro­ved fa­vou­rable to the im­plan­ta­tion of beau­ti­ful re­si­dences, in the mid­st of war­rens and sump­tuous parks. From the 16th cen­tu­ry, rich bu­si­ness­men built ma­nor houses on the outs­kirts of Bor­deaux. Some imi­ta­ted the layout of small castles, such as the one found in Thouars (Ta­lence), while others were more concer­ned with the re­si­den­tial as­pect, such as Cha­teau Haut-brion (Pes­sac), built in 1550 for the par­lia­men­ta­rian Jean de Pon­tac. In the 18th cen­tu­ry, Bor­deaux tra­ders took pos­ses­sion of the soil and construc­ted ma­gni­ficent vil­las and country houses cal­led “bour­dieu”. Where these re­si­dences have just one floor, they are cal­led “char­treuses”, a name per­haps bor­ro­wed from cer­tain convents built du­ring the Coun­ter-re­for­ma­tion which fa­vou­red si­lence and contem­pla­tion. These lei­su­re­ly homes, erec­ted in the centre of farm­lands, came alive in spring for the agri­cul­tu­ral har­vest and in au­tumn for the grape har­vest and hun­ting sea­son. The lan­dow­ners found these places per­fect for phi­lo­so­phi­sing and for en­joying a cer­tain tran­qui­li­ty away from their eve­ry­day ci­ty lives. The late trou­ba­dour and eclec­tic style aside, in the 19th cen­tu­ry the an­tique mo­del of ar­chi­tec­ture was in vogue. Co­lumns, pi­las­ters, en­ta­bla­tures, and moul­dings give a cer­tain neo­clas­si­cal so­lem­ni­ty to these country re­si­dences, pre­vious­ly lo­ca­ted in the mid­st of large vi­neyards. Their pri­vi­le­ged geo­gra­phi­cal po­si­tions on the hil­ls or by the wa­ter gave these places an ex­cep­tio­nal ar­chi­tec­tu­ral and land­sca­ping va­lue.

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