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Bright lights and gentle shadows, carved stones and soft foliage, impressive views and cosy hideaways, southern warmth and fresh slate waters, medieval walls and contemporary structures: located in France's oldest duchy, the Tour Sarrazine of Montaren is a property of contrasts. The structural and temporal differences create a unique sense of calm which is heightened by the modern, simplistic aesthetic. The temptation to remain here almost overpowers the desire to explore the 'golden triangle' of the Gard - that is, the rich historical and natural attractions in the Uzès region. The Tour Sarrazine won the 2017 'Maisons Paysannes de France - Architecture and Heritage' contest with Patrice Besse acting as a member and judge.
Uzège runs in the family for one of us. Even though we were not born here, the region clearly enchanted us as we chose to move here to restore the tour sarrazine of Montaren, one of the oldest buildings in the area. Uzès has retained its authenticity as it is less overpopulated than its neighbours on the other side of the Rhone. The valleys exude charm, sitting amongst heaths as far as the eye can see. They bring history and nature together in the midst of this exceptional built heritage (Pont-du-Gard, ducal city of Uzès) less than an hour from the sea and the mountains, and close to main roads leading to major European capitals.
The tour sarrazine of Montaren is a rectangular tower of great simplicity. Its facades reflect the changes of the centuries with, for example, arrowslits to the north from the 12th century, corbels that once supported 15th century latrines and a stairway tower that was added one hundred years later.
As the oldest building in the village of Montaren, the so-called "Sarrazine" tower probably owes its name to the romanticism of the 19th century which referenced the stone buildings built by the Moors that came to the region in the 8th century. An archaeological study carried out in 2013 indicated that the property dates back to the 12th century. It is mentioned as early as the 13th century, probably as a castrum, a medieval structure where the space on one side is shared as a seigniorial area and the other is reserved for inhabitants of the village. At this time it was part of the first castle of Montaren and the tower is now the only remaining vestige. Its military function is not, however, entirely clear as instead of archers, there are only 'jours' that illuminate the floors. Having changed owners many times over the years, it has belonged to several lords of Montaren, Toulouze, Foissac and Joyeuse, who each made changes according to their neighboring properties. It was only from the 16th century onwards that the tower became a residential property, this is made clear by the comfort features that began to appear: the tower-staircase, chimneys, latrines ... According to a 14th century text, this donjon was alternately occupied by two co-lords along with another tower that was originally located on the site of the current castle built in the 17th century. At the end of the 19th century, these two buildings belonged to the Puget family. They had carried out a lot of restructuring and made significant changes to the original layout.
We have two guest rooms available that offer a unique experience in a thousand-year-old property. De Joyeuse House, a contemporary building to the west of the tower, is open for weekly rentals. Weekly rentals of the entire tower and outbuildings are available throughout July and August. Our guests have access to the library, as well as to the garden and the swimming pool. Of the surprises that await them, the tour of the tower with an aperitif on the roof terrace never fails to please.
On site, in the village, "La Table 2 Julien" offers exceptionally refined and creative dishes at reasonable prices. Uzès, which is four kilometers away, is a fully classified city. The Medieval Garden (located at the foot of the King's Tower offering panoramic views and the old Bishop which offers tours of the jails) is probably the best place to really get a feel for the city away from the busy terraces and tourist hotspots. The Concluses or Gorges du Gardon, where the famous Clouzot film "Le Salaire de la peur" was shot, are perfect for nature and sports enthusiasts: canoeing, canyoning, via ferata ... The markets (Wednesdays and Saturdays in Uzès, Tuesdays and Fridays in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, Sunday in Montaren) are an opportunity to discover the Uzès region through its specialties: truffles in January, pélardons, honeys of garrigue, heather, olives and tapenades ... not to mention the wines on offer from some excellent independent producers that we share with our guests!
Despite its modest size, the tour sarrazine is perfect for filming and photo shoots. Accommodation (bed and breakfast, lodging or full rental of the tower) is possible. If necessary, five other guest houses in the village can accommodate up to forty people.
The friends of the tour sarrazin association occasionally offers activities and entertainment in the garden. For more information, visit www.latoursarrazine.com/amis
The tour sarrazine opens its doors to the Chickpea Festival which takes place on the last weekend of May. For more information, visit www.fetedupoischiche.com
Tours of the tower for groups of up to fifteen guests can be organised on request. Allow about one hour for each visit.