in southern Ardèche, the «French Tuscany»
Hidden away in the heart of a village of a thousand inhabitants that has been labelled "village of character" since 2010, offering a breathtaking view of the Alps and Mont Ventoux to the east, the property lies in a preserved setting with a rich heritage of historic and cultural monuments of interest: churches, castles and houses with character. Slightly removed from the centre, it is close to all amenities: school, shops, restaurants, artisan grocers, library.
About twenty minutes from Aubenas and thirty minutes from the Gorges de l’Ardèche, this place benefits from the numerous attractions offered by the outstanding sites attracting tourists in the area: Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave - Pont d'Arc, Aven d'Orgnac, Most Beautiful Villages in France.
Finally, the presence of vineyards and a few vines attached to the property adds to the range of possibilities.
The property withstood the most troubled periods of the Middle Ages and the Wars of Religion. In addition to the defensive features, a few remnants of the richly decorated interior remain.
The castle has been listed as a historic monument since 1988, its architecture bears witness to the dense and eventful history of the Vivarais region. Once the region had been pacified, the castle became a place of entertainment and pleasure in the 17th and 18th centuries. Large windows were created on the facades, the larger rooms adorned with big fireplaces and the surrounding grounds turned into ornamental gardens.
In the 19th century, the eastern façade was redesigned with Tuscan accents and enhanced by a vast terrace extended by avenues lined with dozens of cypress and olive trees.
Handed down by the daughters of the family until the 20th century, the property was sold to the current owners in the 20th century. They undertook a complete state of the art restoration of the site: from lime-rendered and painted walls, small-paned windows to various Italian and French gardens.
Combining two destinies, the medieval fortification and the modern pleasure residence, it holds many secrets in its interior "fort". Once you have passed through the large gate, walked past the centuries-old muzzle-loaders and crossed the bridge, the castle will show off its most beautiful features. It has a square floor plan and buts onto a free-standing tower, with an extension to the south. Many alterations can be seen here and there, testifying to the long and hectic life of the place: sabre cuts, changes to the windows, among others.
From the moat, an old postern can be seen behind the stone bridge. To the rear of the doorway, a large flagstone entrance hallway leads to the original medieval access opening onto a spiral staircase. The spiral staircase leads down to the rooms on this level, all of which are vaulted, and to a well and a large cellar for storing food and goods. To the north, a first landing opens onto a summer lounge and the Romanesque garden. To the south, in the old stone-paved kitchens, a washhouse reflects the new use of the site. Finally, a boiler room was created in the southern part, bringing all the modern comfort to the floors without altering them.
The ground floor
Before crossing the bridge and the entrance, the spiral staircase leads to the present kitchen and its larder, located behind the large stone fireplace. Further on, a door leads to a bedroom and its bathroom. A long corridor leads to the southern extension of the building, which houses the library and another bedroom. The central spiral staircase also leads to a large, cross-paved sitting room adjoining the dining room and occupying almost the entire eastern facade; it boasts a 17th-century beamed ceiling, discreetly adorned with gilded flowers, and a stone fireplace that covers most of the southern wall. On the same floor follows a separate toilet with washbasin. Finally, through one of the two doors of the sitting room, the visitor reaches a large terrace where time and space stretch out: from the Ardèche of past centuries, the view of gardens and mountains takes him away to distant lands. All that is missing from ancient Rome are the statues between the groves and, from medieval Aquitaine, a troubadour singing his true love to the lady of his heart.
The first floor
A few steps up, no less than seven bedrooms make up the first floor, which consists of a flat and separate rooms for family or friends. Three bathrooms with toilets complete this level. The flat on the western side, with its beamed ceiling and view of the terrace, has a winter room that serves as an anteroom; and as in any aristocratic residence, the gentleman's bedroom to the north and the lady's to the south - or vice versa - each have a shower room and a closet with a polygonal clay tile floor. The northern bedroom is completely independent with its own toilet facility. The fourth, above the main entrance, retains its flagstones and some pigments of old frescoes on the cut sides of the stair turret. The only separate bathroom opens from a games room, which serves as a passageway to the southern extension and its three bedrooms, for guests or family members.
The second floor
Finally, a smaller bedroom receives light from the window to the right. The staircase then leads up to two rooms used as attics, the second of which, on the east side, has been partitioned off to provide another bedroom. All the required features are in place to convert these spaces. At the very top of the tower, there is a last room resembling a lookout point, perfect for use as a workshop.
The independent tower
An old tower has survived to the north of the main building. It overlooks a large space open to the south over the moat but closed off to the north by a gothic door with a hood mould opening onto the Romanesque garden. Only the first and second floors have been preserved, the second floor being divided in height by a mezzanine.
The first floor
The second floor
Bordering the castle to the north, east and south, they are terraced and adorned with a variety of species, including cypresses, olive and lime trees, roses and vines. The northernmost garden extends over the grounds of the former silkworm farm and its courtyard. Its Romanesque inspiration can be seen in the simplicity of its layout; only the Gothic door with its hood mould bears the passage of time. To the east, a formal garden “à la française”, surmounted by the large terrace of the castle, continues our progress through history; its parterre, divided into benches, awaits only Olivier de Serres or Le Nôtre to blossom into a new topiary art. Hidden for the most sensitive eye, a modern pool is visible from a path; two other walkways run south: laid out on two levels, the lower one invites you to a stroll conducive to escape along a cypress-lined path, while the higher one offers attentive and patient pickers the fruits of its paradise, an olive grove with twenty trees.
Like a precious stone, the castle offers many facets. From the medieval tower to the 17th and 18th century charming residence, it does not reveal its architectural complexity at first glance. However, once past the bridge and the defensive obstacles, it presents its most beautiful finery: vaults, beamed ceilings, large fireplaces, library and drawing rooms.
The great variety of its ornaments or its ancient floor tiles will capture attention as much as the terraces with their Italian accents; its romanticism and its view will carry the spectator towards Florence or Verona. Finally, enchantment will be confirmed by the perfumes of its gardens hemmed with roses, which have lost nothing of their "purple dress in the sun".
|Land registry surface area||9710 m2|
|Main building surface area||650 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||10|
|Outbuilding surface area||150 m2|
Frédérique Fournet +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.