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Home > SOUTH / EAST > Castles / chateaux


In the Cathar Country, unique reconstruction of a listed fortress
and its outbuildings, on a 92 ha estate.

Location

Around an hour from Montpellier (TGV, airport), less than 45 min from Carcassonne and Beziers (TGV, airport), but also close to an ancient Roman city where art and history rub shoulders with the Mediterranean Sea. The rich medieval past of this region is to be found in the form of stronghold castle ruins, outstanding Romanesque abbeys and fortified villages. This superb wilderness, comprising impenetrable woods, scrublands and imperious rocks, leaves the plain to civilisation and the vines which produce the wines of the Corbires and the more northern Minervois regions.

Description

Perched at the summit of its rocky knoll at an altitude of 180 m, the imposing fortress proudly overlooks an estate of of approx. 92 ha (227 acres). The property extends its small valleys towards the Mediterranean in the heart of the Narbonne Regional Park with its vast stretch of moors and attractive hunting grounds, covered with heather and numerous Mediterranean species (Aleppo pines, evergreen oaks, umbrella pines, etc.). The approx. 14 ha vineyard (34.5 acres) from which comes the estates Corbires AOC wine is at the foot of the fortress, as well as the old farmhouse brilliantly converted: ten apartments have been installed alongside the spaces allotted to winemaking and farming activities.
A steep path leads from the main entrance to the plateau providing access to the castle.

The castle

From its high vantage point, protected by the cliff, this dominating castle (approx. 860 m2 / 9257 sq ft), stands as an impenetrable fortress. Owned by the powerful de Narbonne family as of 978, in the 13th century it became the heritage of different forces of the era, snatched from the hands of its illustrious masters because of their Cathar allegiances. It was then subjected to several attacks during the French Wars of Religion before its demolition and, thus, its ruin pronounced as permanent, was ordered by Richelieu in 1715.
The 20th century will remember this place for the substantial interest of its more noteworthy ruins (chapel from the end of the 10th century, keep and round tower from the 13th century, various stretches of battlemented walls, outstanding water storage tank, large guard room, etc.) by means of French MH listing in 1913, classification in 1926 together with the citation site of general interest on the list of sites in 1943. It was then to undergo an improbable restoration as of 1991; all the more improbable as, despite the folly and the rashness of the project, it achieves a perfection that we feel necessary to underline.

Built as a quadrilateral and defended in its corners by three round towers and one large square tower forming the keep, the castle reveals all the accoutrements of its totally military function (ramparts, high battlemented walls, defence towers situated at the fortress corners and strategic access points, moats, etc.). Once through part of the fortifications (via the original paths or via the lift, cleverly integrated into the ramparts) we come to the 10th century Romanesque chapel. Curiously designed partly outside the castles protective walls with a single horizontal section of a chancel arch terminated with a semi-calotte vault, partly sunk into the rock by which it is supported, it is a superb example of initial Romanesque sobriety.

The castle can, then, be accessed by its original entrance via the drawbridge, going beyond the sinuous paths, via the last, large gate protecting the inner bailey, the secure living area. Here, we find the features of the extremely rich life of the Middle Ages, far from the worries of war and close to arts and comforts unknown to a corrupt period. So, after its coarse appearance, comes an architectural fantasy; one that caused great apprehension amongst the restorers of this prosperous haven. Thus, wide openings, geminated windows, narrow towers with stairways outside of the carcass, a discretely integrated 3/6 m mosaic heated swimming pool, resistant vegetation and the essential well contribute to this pleasurable living area before returning to the other reality of this period via the wall-walks and the path to the keep.

Heavily inspired by the fineness of this period and the rusticity of the use of materials, the inside has been perfectly planned out such that a comprehensive description could not do it justice. Wood block flooring and wide stone flagstones, massive beams, spiral stairways, monumental fireplaces, the unity of the period features in no way diminishes the home comforts which are all the more remarkable and appreciable due to the fact that they do not show, authenticity only conceding to modernity the best that it has to offer.

The outbuildings

Situated at the entrance to the estate, they correspond to the castles former farm. Ten flats have been converted for rental purposes next to the areas assigned to wine-making and farming activities:
Flat 1: 68 m2
Flat 2: 227 m2
Flat 3: 120 m2
Flat 4: 68 m2
Flat 5: 140 m2
Flat 6: 106 m2
Flat 7: 81 m2
Flat 8: 75 m2
Flat 9: 42 m2
Flat 10 (caretakers): 154 m2, with private garage
Wine storehouse: 650 m2
Storage tank: 70 m2
Farm shed: 171 m2
Workshop: 163 m2

Our opinion

This site is the culmination of a tremendous challenge to a daring and confident man, whose dream gives tribute today to the history of the Cathar country. This remarkable architectural feat is nonetheless a warm, cosy, decisively intimate and certainly a home unlike no other.

Price : contact us

Reference 660676

Land registry surface area 92 ha 12 ca
Main building surface area 859 m2
Outbuilding surface area 2.117 m2

Regional representative

Ilan Libert       +33 (0)6 20 69 38 46

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NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.