CHARTREUSES AND COUNTRY HOUSES
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.