A listed, 13th century Gascony castle, redesigned in the 16th century,
surrounded by 7.5 ha with an orangery and a dovecote, in the Aquitaine region
Agen, LOT-ET-GARONNE aquitaine 47000 FR

Location

Equidistant from Bordeaux and Toulouse, where the borders of the French departments of Lot-et-Garonne and Gers meet those of the Albret and Armagnac regions. Near to the historic, tourist towns of Nérac and Condom. Agen is but 30 minutes away (links to Paris by rail in 190 minutes or by airplane in 80 minutes, two flights per day).

Description

This castle is like a lookout on the outskirts of a little village. In a dominant, naturally defensive position with views over the neighbouring hills, it has defended the valley for more than 700 years. The 4-storey building, flanked by its two circular towers, was once part of the original Gascony castle. In the 15th century, mullioned windows were added to let copious amounts of light into the building and an Italian Renaissance style stairway tower was adjoined to the south facade. This castle was saved from ruin by an old stone enthusiast, a man who not only restored it, but also brought to the fore the Italianate style that characterised the Aquitaine region’s most beautiful houses; a style that is also reflected in the gardens and in the castle’s main lounge.

The castle

A miniature castle gatehouse provides access to a courtyard. Closed by tall carriage gates topped with a coat-of-arms, it still bears witness to its defensive role with its firing loops visible on the sides. The castle’s Renaissance style facade looks out over the garden, on the south side. To the north, the original Gascony castle, with its two round towers, overlooks the valley, the communication route that it watched over. The perimeter of the castle also includes the medieval stables, since redesigned as an orangery, a dovecote tower and a small medieval building, of unknown purpose. The sheer sides of the grounds are bordered with defence walls.


Ground floor
Inside, the vestiges of military activity, including balistraria, firing loops (for long thin cannons) and low gothic doors, are combined with the aesthetic additions from the Italian Renaissance era. Protruding from the south facade, the 16th century rectangular tower is illuminated via three mullioned windows with wrought lintels. It was constructed to house the wide, Renaissance style, half-pace, stone stairway, which goes up through the castle to the top floor. A flight of steps leads down from the vast, stone-paved entrance hall to the basement, part of the foundations of the medieval castle. A door on one side opens into the old kitchen, as indicated by the fireplace. This room receives daylight via two fanlights under the ceiling. A few steps on the north side go down to what was possibly the guardroom. Illuminated via dormers set in the thickness of the walls, it features similar walls, made of large stones with dry joints, and a central dressed stone pillar to support the ceiling beam. It has a packed mud floor. In the north-east corner is the base of the Gascony castle’s round tower, where a deep hole in its centre was perhaps a dungeon.
At the end of the entrance corridor, a large room, under the west wing, was a later addition to the Gascony castle. Used for reception purposes, a wall divides it into two sections, opening via an arcade on to the end section which houses a fireplace. It is illuminated by tall windows, opening on to the garden level. In the north-east corner is a square building intended for the installation of a lift. A door next to it opens into an overhanging room, the base of the old castle tower. Possibly a postern: its gothic vault and its gun-loop bear witness to its age and its defensive role.

First floor
A wide landing provides access, on the east side, to a lounge, a dining room as well as a kitchen and, on the west side, to the bedrooms. The lounge is a vast, bright room, with two north-facing mullioned windows and a gothic-shaped glazed door which opens on to a small herb garden, reached via a hump-back bridge spanning a deep ditch (possibly once part of the moat). This room stands out courtesy of its refined restoration, featuring a French ceiling with beams decorated with scrolls and landscapes painted in medallions. The floor is laid with small terracotta tiles, dotted with rounds of white marble, to form a highly wrought geometric pattern. The east wall is adorned with a large stone fireplace with a straight lintel. In the north-east corner tower, a kitchen-bar has been created, with a stone sink and its hammered copper bowl under a little window. Two balistraria act as a reminder of the tower’s defensive role. On this level, the large north-west tower, separating the Gascony and 16th century sections, remains a mystery: it has no visible access. It is “buffered” in height between the postern and one of the third-floor bedrooms. The dining room, on the south side, features small terracotta floor tiles, a tall stone fireplace and a south-facing mullioned window, looking out over the Italianate garden. The entire west wall is covered with grey-leaded panelling that includes doors concealing vast storage cupboards. The central door opens into the open-plan kitchen as well as the lounge. The kitchen, illuminated via a large, mullioned window, identical to that in the dining room, features a French ceiling and small terracotta floor tiles. Its modern fixtures and fittings meet the standards of our contemporary lifestyle without diminishing the character of this era. Preceding the section on the west side, a small cell-type room is set between the two wings and used as a bathroom, with a bath and an old marble wash-hand basin and a toilet. The west wing, a later, 16th century addition to the original Gascony castle, comprises two intercommunicating bedrooms, looking out over the Italianate garden as well as the valley on the north side. The access passageway also leads to a laundry room. The north-west corner of this room is boxed in with the intention of installing a lift. The first bedroom, also in use as a little lounge, has a large, 17th century stone fireplace and small terracotta floor tiles. The ceiling is flat. Tall, single-glazed windows face north and south. A small, ancillary kitchen has been installed in a cupboard on the east side. It is also used for storing firewood for the fireplace. The next bedroom, also with a flat ceiling, has large terracotta floor tiles, typical of the Gironde region, and similar windows to the previous bedroom. A decorative fireplace has been installed in the corner of the north-west wall. Behind it was the entrance to a wall-walk. On the second floor, on the landing set at right angles, two tall recesses still have traces of what was possibly the original paint: Pompeian red faded by the years.
Second floor
This level has the same layout as the floor below. In the Gascony castle section, a large lounge, directly above that on the first floor, is more austere in its decoration, with a natural wood, French ceiling and wide strip pattern wooden flooring. Two mullioned windows look out over the valley, on the north side, and another faces east. It features an impressive stone fireplace with an arched lintel. A gothic door in the north-east corner opens into the tower, now a library. The old balistraria can still be seen in the walls. Two doors on the south side open into rooms directly above the kitchen and the dining room. Both have mullioned windows looking out over the garden as well as ceilings with exposed beams and joists. They need decorating. The large tower on the north-west corner is now a delightful bedroom, with small terracotta floor tiles, exposed ceiling beams and rafters, a stone fireplace and, in an allusion to the past, a toilet set in the thickness of the walls.
In the wing set at right angles, two north-south facing, intercommunicating bedrooms feature mullioned windows on the south side and small windows on the north side, with a view of the Italianate garden in the foreground and the surrounding hills in the distance. A large stone fireplace adorns the end wall and a corner houses a shower room. Courtesy of their double aspect, the four bedrooms in this wing look out, south, over the Tuscan garden and, north, over the more severe view of the valley below. The stairway ends on the third floor with a vast, stone-paved landing, illuminated via a mullioned window overlooking the garden. It surprisingly has a large stone fireplace on one side. The restored roofing frameworks of the attics, reached via a passageway on the north side, are exposed.

The exteriors

A high wall that perhaps once supported the old wall-walk links the 16th century wing to a small house, with one room upstairs, reached via an outside stone stairway. Under this room, a vaulted room, the use of which is unknown, was possibly a chapel or even a secret room. Adjoining this construction is a recent covered area. A wall, set at right angles and joining the orangery, delimits the Italianate garden. Further away, a dovecote is in line with and in front of what was the feudal motte of a primitive castle. An orangery opens on to the garden via three large stone arches. With its perfect dimensions, it is sometimes used for theatrical of musical events.

The gardens

These gardens, exuding a pleasant atmosphere, are divided into two very different, restful sections: one, Tuscan and sunny, with a view over the surrounding countryside; the other, a more secret, medieval herb garden. Florentine gardens with their topiary bushes decoratively trimmed into shapes resembling pottery, Mediterranean cypress trees lining gravel alleyways, bordered with boxwood, a lily pond and a gazebo, as a backdrop, backing on to the terrace wall. The orangery is on the west side with, further away, the dovecote, an asset of all stately homes, which features a roof with an open lantern as well as drip moulding.
There is no swimming pool, but a project to install one reminiscent of traditional Provencal Bastide house pools has already been envisaged in the meadow below on the south side.

Our opinion

Besides the quality of the restoration works, one of the most striking features of these premises is the harmony that is exuded by the additions and transformations dating from different eras. A superb continuity which, by its very nature, enhances the immediately obvious pleasant atmosphere whilst, to the visitors’ great delight, preparing surprises that are invariably provided by the buildings that were continually constructed over the years. The 21st century is indeed a descendant of the previous generations and each now has its place. Both exterior and interior blend into one courtesy of the harmony of their chosen aesthetics.

1 890 000 €
Fees at the Vendor’s expense


See the fee rates

Reference 972484

Land registry surface area 7 ha 48 a 90 ca
Main building surface area 800 m2
Number of bedrooms 6
Outbuilding surface area 200 m2

Consultant
South-West Lot-et-Garonne


Armelle Chiberry du Vignau +33 1 42 84 80 85

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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.

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