surrounded by some 6 ha, optionally with an additional 50 ha, in the New Aquitaine region
This property is near to Villeneuve-sur-Lot, a powerful bastide or fortified town in the south-west of France, and to Agen TGV train station with its 190-minute links to Paris. It is also near to sessile oak woods, the limestone soils of the Quercy region and the rich heritage of French department of Dordogne.
It is equidistant from Bordeaux and Toulouse.
Extended between the 15th and 17th centuries, this castle was one of the first to feature the Renaissance style in the area around Agen, just a stone’s throw from vestiges of a stately residence, dating from before the crusade of the people of Albi.
The little lane providing access is virtually private as, once passed the entrance gates, it becomes a hiking trail. The walls of the former castle motte look down on to it. The white limestone rock, on which the constructions are built, can be glimpsed through the coppice stands. A chain closes the access to the vast esplanade on which stand two castles, outbuildings and a small caretaker’s cottage which is the sole vestige of the village that grew up under the local lord’s protection. Here then are two castles that bear witness to a double “châtellenie” (an officially recognised castle and its land) which must already have been in existence at the end of the Middle-Ages. One is in ruins and the other perfectly restored. A stone well stands in the corner formed by the hexagonal entrance tower of the restored building.
The parklands, extended by vast meadows, form a sort of setting around this feudal property. Planted with superb trees such as lime, oak, sweet gum and other species, they help to make the premises attractive.
A gothic door opens on to a listed spiral stairway that provides access on a lower level via a door, with breccia marble framing, to a guard room, first addition to the original tower. Its ceiling is vaulted and reveals a superb terracotta brick facing. It has terracotta floor tiles and walls featuring large exposed stones. Two tall windows set in a deep embrasure look out over the entrance courtyard. A large medieval stone fireplace is under a basket-handle arch. A stone stairway goes even further down to another vaulted room where two bread ovens indicate its former use.
The spiral stairway continues down to the oldest foundations and a vaulted storage room with a packed mud floor as well as a little area that was used as salting room as is proved by the three troughs set against the wall.
A few steps provide access from the entrance landing, paved with large flagstones, to a large lounge. Its mullioned, small-paned windows look out over the entrance and the outside on either side of the stone fireplace, level with the wall. It has exposed stone walls and French ceilings enhanced on both sides by a stone arch. A French window leads out, on the south side, to a little terrace, set on the ramparts. Steeped in sunlight, it is an observation post, looking out over the valley below. It has terracotta floor tiles. A small study with a dry stone vaulted ceiling also looks out over the valley.
A second, smaller lounge, laid out around the keep and illuminated via mullioned windows, providing a superb view, has an oak wood French ceiling and exposed stone walls. It is followed by a dining room. Both these rooms have herringbone pattern parquet flooring and stone fireplaces.
Set at right angles, a 1970’s fitted kitchen, with wall cupboards and work surfaces facing one another, is extended by a back kitchen which precedes a shower room.
A carved wooden door, with added diamond shapes, opens off the spiral stairway into a small child’s room, with a vaulted ceiling, as if nestling in the tower. One of the two landing doors provides access, left, to a library and the other, right, to the bedrooms, making it easy to move around the keep.
The library has the same floor surface area as the large lounge below. It is illuminated via three mullioned windows. Its French ceiling features a dark wood. It has strip pattern flooring. The rendered walls painted a light colour include a sober stone and narrow brick fireplace.
The six bedrooms on this floor are of varying sizes, from the small child’s room to those of stately proportions. Most have fireplaces, one of which, more refined than the others, is bordered by thick ogee moulding. They have French ceilings, exposed stone walls and strip pattern parquet flooring. A bathroom, reached via a corridor, is set between two bedrooms.
The last bedroom on this floor, on the landing, has an east-facing view of the chapel and the old castle via a double mullioned window.
The stairway continues up to the attic which covers the full floor surface area of the castle. The complexity of the roofs, bearing witness to the various construction periods, can be seen here where the trusses with the breaks are exposed. Turning beams are supported by the keep, in the centre of the buildings. A vaulted passageway set in the thickness of the walls provides access to this original section. It was the sole means of access to this defensive building. Arrow and gun loops can still be seen. The superb flat roofing framework rests on a stone corbel going around the room.
The chapel and the first castle
This consecrated, west-facing chapel, built on the ramparts, looks out over the castle, from which it is separated by a grassy terrace. Featuring a gothic style, the quarters of its crossed-ribbed vaults were recently decorated with frescoes exuding a Byzantine air. It has terracotta floor tiles and exposed stone walls. A door at the end of the apse opens into an immense room, vestige of the old castle, of which remains but the foundations of two round towers. It has a packed mud floor and its roofing framework has been restored.
The wall that extends this building closes a small grassy courtyard. A medieval fireplace, suspended in mid-air, proves that the state room used to be here. Two rooms at the end of the courtyard look down: the one on the ground floor has a cement floor. The exposed stone walls still feature chest-high orifices, once gun-loops. A wooden stairway, extended by a balcony corridor, leads upstairs to a second room with strip pattern flooring and a ceiling with exposed joists.
The outbuildings are dotted around at a distance from the castle. They too bear witness to the economic activities of the various eras.
The architecture of a dovecote, constructed on a lower level, is extremely sophisticated. This dovecote stands on six stone columns, topped with a round stone capital, designed to prevent rodents climbing up. The half-timbered walls are filled with narrow bricks.
Facing the castle from the entrance is a superb exposed stone building. Covered with a modern flat roof, it is reminiscent of a small fort. This old, very large stable (180 m²) was transformed by the last resident into a concert hall. Its dry stone vault provides excellent acoustics. The floor is cobbled. This building communicates with the castle via double central doors, with a stone lintel and basket-handle arch moulding. Two windows, on either side, are set in a deep embrasure.
A barn, behind the stable-concert hall, opens on to the entrance lane. It has a cement floor and its roofing framework rests on wooden pillars, forming a vast covered area. It precedes a cowshed still with its mangers and a superb exposed roofing framework.
Straight on, a large arched doorway provides access to a vast building in use as a garage. The roof covering its cement floor features an exposed roofing framework.
These are followed by a vast workshop with a cement floor. It opens on to the castle via double arched doors.
The caretaker’s cottage
This caretaker’s cottage, sole vestige of the old castle village, has been completely renovated. The ground floor comprises a living room, with an open-plan kitchen. Its plastered walls are painted white and its floor covered with terracotta tiles. An old stone sink has been preserved under a window which looks out over the valley. It precedes a bedroom with a mezzanine.
A stairway leads to a bathroom and toilet on a lower level. Next to this, a machine room houses a boiler and a washing machine.
A large swimming pool, laid out on a slope in the parklands, is out of sight of the castle. The tiled terrace and the pool liner are currently undergoing restoration works. Behind a machine room is a changing room with a shower, wash-hand basin and a toilet.
The interlinking of the buildings and the roofs relates an exciting documented history that new research can but embellish. Although the fortress merits its name, it is not in the least daunting, quite the contrary. Set on a promontory, from which it looks down on the surrounding countryside, it exudes immediate appeal. The inside is more than just a spiral stairway, mullioned windows and sumptuous roofing frameworks. A long vaulted area in a section of the outbuildings has been transformed into a concert hall, with excellent acoustics. One thing is certain, this collection of venerable, perfectly restored buildings has much to give. And the possibility of purchasing an additional fifty or so hectares could give it even more potential.
|Land registry surface area||6 ha 77 a 59 ca|
|Main building surface area||450 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||6|
Armelle Chiberry du Vignau +33 1 42 84 80 85
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.