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When confronted with such a stunning façade, it is hard to imagine that Pennautier is still, above all, a family home. It has been in the same family since 1620, becoming known as the ‘Versailles of Languedoc’ over the years. This Historic Monument on the outskirts of Fresquel is home to both Louis XIII’s travel furniture and a winery. A discovery tour of the one hundred and fifty hectares of vineyards, the pride of Cabardès, is just the beginning of what Pennautier has to offer. Its balanced and elegant proportions make the chateau an unmissable landmark for anyone visiting the Cathar country. Fortunately, the guest rooms and the more modest seasonal lodgings allow visitors to prolong the enjoyment of the tour or event that led them here. The restaurant and the wine cellars alone are well worth stopping for.
We are the tenth generation to have the chateau passed down to us since it was built. Along with Pennautier, we own five other estates in the region. Needless to say, we know the area very well. We particularly enjoy the mix of Mediterranean sun and the fresh Atlantic breeze that sweeps over the limestone terrain.
Thanks to its history, the Château de Pennautier has features from several different eras. It is firstly an elegant Louis XIII chateau with large windows that open onto two courtyards, one to the north and one to the south. The two wings on either side of the façade were built in 1670 and are the work of Le Vau. He also introduced the orangery to the east and the ballroom and music room to the west. The south facade alone is one hundred metres long. Le Nôtre (landscape designer of Versailles) designed the French-style park which covers over thirty hectares. Rodolphe de Beynaguet de Pennautier began new works on the chateau between 1835 and 1850. He enlarged it further by extending it into the central courtyard and renovated the interiors with Italian-style mosaic floors. He then redesigned the English-style park to suit the fashion of the time.
Having witnessed one family’s history over four centuries, the chateau has been subject to several embellishments and expansions over the years. It was built in 1620 by Bernard de Pennautier, an ancestor of Nicolas de Lorgeril. In 1622, it welcomed King Louis XIII who donated a beautifully preserved building, classified as a historic monument, to the estate. Bernard’s son, Pierre Louis de Pennautier, was a powerful and refined man who entrusted Le Vau with the elevation of the wings (the Orangery and the Galerie Louis XIV) and Le Nôtre with the design of the French-style gardens. As witnesses to many great moments of history, the estate and the family have developed a rich culture of wine and excellence. Today, the chateau offers a gateway to the French art of living. Fully restored in 2009, this protected historic monument combines the beauty of the regions cultural heritage with the charm of a family home and the modernity of an estate suitable for receptions, events and memorable overnight stays.
We have strived to bring a new lease of life to the chateau without compromising what lies at its heart: an exceptional setting with a rich history and art of living, French excellence and beautiful heritage. By a cosy fire in winter or on the terrace in summer, a restaurant two hundred metres from the chateau serves both lunch and dinner. The cuisine is simple yet tasty, combining regional specialities with fresh Mediterranean cuisine.
Surrounded by vineyards and stunning landscapes, the estate is a rich and unique attraction for tourists. As frontrunners in the hospitality industry for fifteen years, we have developed all kinds of activities to help our guests understand, discover, enjoy and experience the exciting world of vineyards and wine. These range from a discovery tour of the vineyards with a customised winemaking demonstration, to a tour of the cellars with an introduction to the various blends or a wine-tasting with accompaniments such as cheese and chocolate. Also onsite is a restaurant which offers cooking classes in collaboration with six star chefs from the surrounding area. In addition to all of this, we can organise many activities for events such as receptions, seminars or relaxation days. Games, challenges, quad bikes, mountain biking and horse-riding can be combined with shows, private concerts, curiosities, artistic experiences and classes on the French ‘art de vivre’. In a region with such exceptional historical and natural heritage, there is a vast range of places to be discovered beyond the chateau’s park and collection of paintings. Three kilometres away are two Unesco-listed sites – the Cité de Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi. The surrounding landscape is scattered with towering Cathar chateaus and stunning abbeys.
Built to host celebrations and prestigious events during the Grand Siècle, the castle is perfectly adapted to modern day receptions. The Louis XIV Gallery (see above), the Prestige lounges (that cover three hundred square meters alone) and the Orangery of one hundred and fifty square meters level with the park offer several possibilities for receptions depending on the guests needs. The chateau’s park, designed by Le Nôtre, covers over thirty hectares and boasts a superb view of the nearby mountains and vineyard. It can also host receptions or cocktails parties and, if necessary, temporary tents and activities. The family’s private chapel can accommodate up to fifty people for non-Catholic Christian marriages or Catholic marriages that would traditionally be held in a parish. On such occasions, the chateau’s twenty-four rooms can be reserved so that all guests can feel at home, the children can rest, and the bride has somewhere to get ready. The lounges and relaxation areas are free for all guests to enjoy. The eight cottages can also be reserved and accommodate fifty-five additional people. If extending the party to the following day, brunches or lunches are easily organised at the Château or in our restaurant, La Table Cave du Château.
Depending on the day and the season, Pennautier offers many activities including wine tasting and cellar tours, guided or self-guided tours of the vineyards and wine and cheese/wine and chocolate workshops. A free picnic area is available as well as packed baskets to take away. Information and reservations are available via +33 (0) 4 68 25 63 48 or via email at email@example.com
The park is open for free visits every day between 10am and 5pm. The guided tour of the chateau - Historical Monument - takes place every Wednesday and Friday at 11am in July and August.