History-lover's Heaven 4 Châteaux in the region
◆ 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.