A Tale of Two Châteaux

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France is a country full of surprises. It is a land of two characters, one a hi-tech modern nation capable of putting satellites into space, a nation that pushes the frontiers of modern medicine and makes the world’s largest passenger plane, and the other an ancient landscape of quiet villages in a countryside where chickens peck at passing car tyres and flowers flow over old crumbling walls, a checkwork pattern of wild and homogenised views, when old women still sell surplus pumpkins and the Sunday roast comes from the hen-house. Studded like fantastical chess-pieces across this glorious melange of a landscape are France’s châteaux, triumphant buildings that echo the fortunes of those who built them, and each has a tale to tell from a chequered past.

The word ‘château‘ is actually defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a large house or castle, but nevertheless when using the word I think for many of us the buildings that  initially spring to mind are the magnificent châteaux found in the Loire valley,  castellated and spired creations that cannot fail to fuel our romantic imaginations. Closer to home though, are two châteaux near us that could not be more different;  although the first lacks a multitude of princess-dwelling turrets, it is a magnificent building,

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and the second is more of a defensive fortress.

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Two true châteaux, but each with very different roles in history and very different stories to go with them.

The building closest to us is a château-fort built in 1180 by the Lusignan family.  It  remained their property until 1750 when it was taken over by the Saint-Gelais de Lusignans, a continuation of the dynasty in a different guise. It is a magnificent example of medieval military architecture, and defended the salt marshes it overlooks and local inhabitants from the many incursions undertaken by various water-born invaders and pirates, among them the English, the Saxons, the Vikings, and the Moors. In 1994 the château, which was no more than a ruin at the time, was categorised as an ‘Historical Monument’, and was bought up to be restored, a project that is close to completion some 23 years later.

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Today, the old salt marshes below the escarpment are used mainly for agricultural purposes, and where once the salt barges plied their trade there now exist stands of dry land where cattle roam, a series of islands connected – and yet separated from each other – by the old salt ponds and navigation channels.u

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Where the tree-line is now, was once the shoreline of a vast inland sea, and deep in amongst the brambles and ferns there exist still the remnants of jetties, where the precious salt was loaded aboard shallow-keeled barges that set out for Rochefort, La Rochelle and other ports.

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Where the two dogs sniff today for scents of rabbits and pheasant, was once home to shellfish and crabs, a flat-bottomed bay which stretched out to sea, now some eight miles distant.

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The clay cliff here above the farmstead is the basis of the terre cuites that are still produced today along the same geographical lode-line. Centuries ago each village produced its own tiles, from kilns set deep in woods below the escarpment – I think only two remain today, but now they produce tiles for a far greater audience.

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To protect the riches of the inland sea, this castle was preceded by a wooden structure even older, perhaps from the seventh or eighth century: its remains were recently discovered by ground radar half a kilometre to the west of the stone castle that stands today – the older remains are being excavated, slowly, and perhaps next year we will know more.

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A stroll alongside one of the original navigable canals

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leads to discoveries that have no answer. A shepherd’s hut? A storage building? A defensive position? These are questions that can only be answered by the rustle of reeds and the faint cry of curlews.

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It is a fine place to walk and lose oneself, deep in thought, and it is easy for the more sensitive visitor to be moved by the sense of history. The sight of Moorish pirates and their white billowing lateen sails on the horizon must have sent salt-workers at a run to the hill and safety atop in the castle.

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At day’s end the marsh is a fine place for sunsets too, though as the cloak of darkness falls it is wise to head home before it gets dark enough to slip unknowingly into a ditch.

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The second building I want to show you is the Château de Buzay in the village of La Jarne, near La Rochelle. The Château de Buzay was built relatively late, in 1770, and offers one of the finest examples of the richness, finesse, and balance that made 18th century France into a universal artistic reference. Aspirations of military grandeur are largely missing from this building, for by now the machines of war included artillery that could make a mockery of the strongest fortification, and the furor of Napoleon’s Empires was still to come.

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At this time the nearby port of Buzay was growing at a fast rate thanks to its solid trade links with the New World, and one of the region’s most successful inhabitants, Pierre Etienne Harouard, was the architect of the Château’s construction. Pierre was a shipowner, advisor, and secretary to the king, all of which gave him privilege and wealth sufficient to embark on his magnificent home.

Built to match the status and vision of the shipowner, the seemingly compact château was designed in the Louis XVI style, and this can be seen in the perfectly proportioned lines (influenced by the Palladian masters of Ancient Greece); these soften the many details that show such great finesse. For example, the marine allegory on the pediment of the north façade is almost certainly a veiled reference to the business interests of the shipowner-landlord of the premises.
The inside of the château is a similar story to the façade. The furnishings, wood panelling, beautiful furniture, family portraits, and a grand staircase can still be seen in all their former glory.
Meanwhile, the exterior parkland  consists of a network of paths forming geometrical patterns, all meeting at circular junctions interspersed with flowerbeds and water features. The landscaping was designed with reference to Dézallier d’Argenville’s ‘La théorie et la pratique du jardinage‘ (The Theory and Practice of Gardening), which typically places a building at the centre of a landscape around which the rest of the property must be geometrically ordered. It should surprise no one that this has also been classed as an ‘Historical Monument’ since 1950, as it is a perfect example of all that is beautiful and important in the history of French architecture.

I can do no better than show you some pictures that should make those of you who aspire to grand designs grin with pleasure.

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Here are some minute details, the scrolls containing flowers above the doors.

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The avenue that once would have grandly led visitors on carriages to the château

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and those gates.

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the walls that surround it,

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and the cottages that were once a part of the huge estate.

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Both of these châteaux sit very comfortably within their own skin, and both seem to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. There are other similarities too; both are privately owned and both are actually occupied by their current owners.

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There is a footnote of course to today’s blog – the story goes that during WWII the furniture was hidden for safety at Chateau de Buzay from the advancing German occupying army. I will try and find out more and next time I shall show you photos of the interiors of both of them.

127 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Châteaux

  • So fascinating, I love history, so this was perfect for me! Very much looking forward to seeing the inside of the chateaux too. As someone addicted to all the home design programmes on T.V. & on Pinterest, I’m hoping to get a few ideas from the pictures! xxx

    • Hi Janet, I am not so sure you would get too many day to day ideas from the interior of the chateau fort, but you might from the interior of the newer Chateau de Buzzy, it is first and foremost a private home after all! xx

  • Oh, what a treat to wake up to and read while sipping my morning tea!! Wonderful descriptions and photographs–I felt like I was right there with you. Thank you! As with Janet above, I cannot wait for the pics of the interiors. I am amazed that these homes are privately owned and lived in. Can you tell us anything about who lives in them? Are they year-round residents? Is the public permitted to tour them for a fee? If so, then perhaps that helps to fund the upkeep and heating costs which must be enormous. Do you know if the government supports or subsidizes the owners’ efforts at restoration? I was surprised to know that the fortress chateaux was only a ruin but has been restored to its original form. Can you tell which part is the restored portion and where the original part lies? So fascinating!

    • Hi Anne, yes both chateaux are lived in and both are permanent homes, year round. Likewise both are open to the public although the Chateau de Buzzy is open only during the summer months, can you imagine the cost of heating, it would be enormous and the upkeep too. The government certainly didn’t help with the chateau fort no, but Historic Monuments of France did help a little but they still had to find a lot of the funding themselves. I shall look forward to showing you the interiors at a later date. In the meantime you can learn more about the chateau fort here on a blog post I wrote in January 2016 – https://ourfrenchoasis.com/2016/01/28/renovating-a-chateau/ Hope it answers some of your questions. xx

  • The perfect post to read on a sunny (but chilly) morning while sipping tea, Susan. Takes me right back to some of the amazing châteaux I’ve been fortunate enough to see when visiting France, although the Vosges area, being a poorer area, doesn’t have as many. It boggles my mind to think of anyone having enough money to build and maintain one of these. Paying for heating now would be no joke, either. But for a history buff like me, it’s so much fun to see them, learn more about them, and let my imagination roam.

    janet

    • I quite agree, can you imagine the heating costs! No wonder they have to be open to the public, just to help maintain them, but I am grateful they are, it means we get to view inside which is quite fascinating. It is interesting seeing the different styles of chateaux in different areas, as you say there are the wealthier areas too and the big wine chateaux certainly do top them all in many ways, but I also love the chateau fort because it is rarer to find examples that have been restored so well xx

  • LOVED THIS SHARE!!!!!!!!
    HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME………havenot heard from you on my BLOG in AGES!I understand TIME Is PRECIOUS!!!
    THIS was a GIFT you gave me this morning!
    XX

    • No no not at all, just scarcely have time to think at the moment! I have been seriously absent in blog land, but I am hoping with the encroaching winter months I shall get a little more time! I will be back, promise xx

  • Ah, I love these sort of buildings, Susan; great photos and like others, can’t wait for some interior pictures. That salt marsh (the Marais?) sounds fascinating. I bet there’s some stories buried in the mud. Love those photos too, such a wonderful light. Thank you – as always – for brightening up an Autumn day.

  • Yes, please show more details of these 2 chateaux. Having visited some of the chateaux [and tasted the wine :o)] in the Loire Valley, I love reading today’s post. Thanks for the history of the area. Learned 2 new words today: terre cuites and lateen sail.

    • Thanks Karen, these chateaux are I think quite different to those found in the Loire, which of course I love as much as the next person! But I am drawn to both of these because the first is not so huge, I love the proportions and the second is just rare to find in such great restored condition. xx

  • I am in love with French chateaus but I must say I have Never seen one like your second one, that is what I would call a castle and the first a manor house. How funny, I suppose I have been very misinformed all along!

    • I think we all have our own preconceived ideas of what chateaux should look like! The second one was indeed built as a fortress whereas the first was built as a grand home for a wealthy family, too completely opposite purposes. xx

  • A joy to read this and look at all these photos. I would love to live in either one of these and imagine all sorts of stories. Beautiful photos as always

  • I love that old château fort it reminds me of a castle in southern England where I used to play when I was a child. A rather eccentric family lived there and half was habitable and the other half a spooky scary maze of old hallways that terrified and enthralled us kids at the same time.

    • Gosh that sounds like a lot of fun, although I think I would have been quite terrified, I have always been such a scaredy cat with anything like this! It does indeed remind me of old castles in England, its history is fascinating, I am so glad they restored it and have been able to open it to the public. xx

  • Lovely photos. The history of the salt marshes is fascinating. Have you ever found shells during your walks with the dogs?
    I also am looking forward to the inside images of the Chateaux. It’s always interesting to see how other people live and imagine oneself wafting about a grand house.
    Ali xxx

    • Yes we have found shells down in the marais, quite frequently. I so look forward to showing you the interiors, it is fascinating to think that both are lived in year round, I would love to live in the Chateau de Buzay, I think it has such a lovely facade, but imagine the cost of running such an enormous house!! xx

  • I feel as though I am on a wonderful tour with you as the guide. Appreciate your photos and the history of the country. What a beautiful land.

  • Hi. Sorry to read about the withdrawal of Gigi’s tennis funding in Living magazine. I hope that you managed to get something sorted out as she is obviously extremely talented at the game. I enjoy your blogs.

  • I am awestruck by the beauty and your description of the castles and their surroundings. The historical significances’ of the area is fascinating..

    • Thanks Linda, it is fascinating learning more about these Chateaux, why they were built and the struggles that goes into keeping them up and running, the cost is quite considerable. I am also fascinated by the reasons they were built, one as a fortress and the other as a wealthy family home. Complete opposites. xx

    • Ahh someone who thinks like me! Can you imagine a fictional historical novel spanning the two chateaux? They are both so different and play opposite roles in life but my mind is already working overtime thinking of a story! xx

  • I have had three vacations with my husband in the Loire, we love to tour different château so this was right up my street. A great contrast between the two.

  • How rightly you point out that there are two sides to France. I am struck by the contrast of those two worlds, as well as by how easily they coexist in the French mindset. It is a land of contrasts, and you have nicely depicted its traditional side!

    • Thank you. It is a land of contrasts and I think the more one travels around the country the more visible it becomes. I have been in Bordeaux this week and we were all struck by the contrast of this big city to the smaller ones here in the Charente Maritime. But another thing that struck us was how incredibly friendly and helpful everyone was in Bordeaux which left us feeling very happy. xx

      • My neighbour comes from Bordeaux and she is very affable and helpful. We live in Creuse – Cow country, lots of farmers around us, and few chateau. But we are about 4 hours from the Loire valley so hoping to revisit a few next year. Apparently the ship Hermione is complete? I saw her a few years back as work in progress – fascinating.

      • We drove through Creuse this summer, absolutely stunning countryside, but maybe because I am a farmer’s daughter I like cows! Hermione has been finished for a while now, two years if I remember correctly, we watched her sail out of Rochefort. She is back here now and it is an absolute delight to tour her and to see all of the work they have done. If you come this way you must include a day in Rochefort so you can visit her. But beware she does often go off on trips during the summer and her sister ship comes into port instead, but you can check it all online! Xx

      • Judi, Judi, Judi! Living where you are you are so close to the Allier which is STUFFED with Bourbonnaise château and Corrèze has a fair few too. As for Puy de Dome and Cantal, we have a fair few too … not fairytale Azay le Rideaux epics but nonetheless you could scratch the castle itch very nicely close to home, I reckon. I don’t know the flatlands of the Creuse well enough but I imagine there are some lovely buildings there too, non? Yours included 😉

  • I love the first château, it is not too big so it is within he realms of reality when I ldelve into my fantasy day dreaming world 😀

  • I am a total history buff, always my favourite subject at school and since then, a long long time ago, I have always studied anything and everything I can if it involves the past. This was very interesting, I would like to see more of the very old castle, it looks as if it could tell a lot of stories and it must have seen many wars and much turmoil in its history.

    • The chateau fort has indeed seen many wars and it has provided refuge for a great many people. I look at it in complete awe, to think it was built nearly a thousand years ago, with no machinery back then, it is a complete miracle really and I am so pleased that it has been bought and restored. xx

  • Love your blog. I was interested to read that you have curlews. I live on an island off the south east coast of Queensland Australia. We have hundreds of families of curlews. I wonder if they are similar. Scary noises at night if you are not used to them.

    • Thanks Sandra, it sounds as if you live in a beautiful place, being an Island person! I do know that Curlews can be found worldwide, and that there are different species but I wonder if they are similar. I am going to ask Roddy to add his thoughts as he is far more knowledgable on birds than I am! xx

  • Enjoyed this post, Susan. Each time we go back to France, we visit local chateaux in Normandy. It is always a treat. Going ‘home’ for Christmas and spending some time in the Hautes Pyrenees! Can’t wait…

  • What a post! I look forward to seeing some of the interiors of both. Are they open periodically or do you know the owners? It’s always interesting to se a place in its context and the marshes are so beautiful. Thanks for blogging it out to us. I’ve been away from blogging and reading myself. It happens!

    • I know how that happens, I have not been visible much in blogland for several months, too much going on and no spare time, but I am hoping during the winter to get back to reading other blogs more frequently again as I do love them. With regards the chateaux, it’s a mix of both, we do know the owners of the chateau fort, yes. Both are open to the public with limited hours. xx

  • A delightful further ‘filling in’ of the ‘squares’ in your area. And more ‘ticks’ will be appreciated . . . .and a further reminder of how well France seems to be coping with being amongst the first with ‘the new’ whilst appreciating and cherishing ‘the old’. For three weeks every August for some 15 years I have watched the ‘Tour de France’ . . . largely for a lesson as to how France looks at the moment . . . . it absolutely enchants me to see the large areas which have been left to forests and fields and buildings dated years and centuries ago . . . comfortable . . .

    • I totally agree with you, these two, old and new, really do rub along just fine here, in fact they do more than that, they compliment each other quite beautifully and the result is a country that is rich in history, but works rather efficiently, most of the time!! xx

  • Dear Susan,
    I have tried to find time all day so that I could tell you how much I enjoyed your post. What a treasure you have given your readers today.
    There is nothing I like more than to hear about French Châteaus. You provided us with rich detail and a fascinating account of the importance of their contribution in French history.
    In fact, with your writing and lovely images I was “whisked” away singing the Châteaus “praises” past and present. No pressure for the interior pictures from me! 😉
    Thank you again for “feeding” my passion on this very cold Thursday-waiting for the arrival of snow before night fall on Saturday! And so it begins!
    Happy Weekend, Susan! ❤️

    • Thanks so much Stephanie. I cannot believe you have snow due already, it seems winter is coming early to many areas this year. We have been enjoying an Indian summer with temperatures in the 80’s so I cannot quite contemplate winter yet, but I think it is due to turn and we might even have to light our first fire this autumn by the weekend, maybe! Stay warm and have a lovely weekend xx

      • It has been a cold and snowy Friday! Just taking a little time out from rearranging things to reread your post. I do think (and agree with Peggy) that you could write a lovely mystery novel about the two Chateaus! No pressure of course. Enjoy the weekend and good luck to Gigi when she plays her first Tennis Europe Tournament! Very exciting times! ❤️

      • Thanks so much, I shall pass on your good luck message to Gigi. I might just spend the weekend in my free time drumming up a storyline for something to do with the two chateaux, I have a few ideas! Cannot believe you had snow, we had another lovely day although somewhat cooler and only in the low 70’s but certainly nowhere near cold enough for the white stuff to make an appearance, although it very rarely does. Perhaps we shall have to light a fire though which would be rather fun, although I am very much a summer girl I do love a roaring log fire and snuggling up on a dark winter’s evening! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • What a lovely post – thank you! I was in Brittany recently and related to the mix of old and new, which you caught so well. I love being able to dip into the past, while relaxing in the present, and in Brittany the sense of great age is tangible.

    • Thanks Candy, the mix of old and new is what is so fascinating and early helps to make France what it is. I think that great sense of age and history is visible throughout France, it is so much fun to explore everything each area has to offer and to discover so much about its past. xx

  • Hi Susan! Another gorgeous post! Such wonderful visual esthetics and you manage to portray with your words! I must agree that the contrast in France between the old and the new is quite wonderful! Like many of the Old World, European countries, it retains its long heritage and history proudly while stepping forwards into the future. Keep writing! Have a good weekend! Xxx Josie

    • Thanks so much Josie, this mix of old and new is what I love so much about France, but then it is true in so many other countries as well, not just here, how the two compliment each other. There really is something for everyone. Thank goodness there are people who want to preserve the magnificent old buildings and keep them very much alive. xx

  • I’ve spent many an hour going through some French Chateaux, mostly in the Loire valley, and I am always in awe of what they represent in terms of architecture and design. The furnishings are just the icing on the cake, normally. Throw in some great art in several I have visited and it’s easy to see why I don’t often pass up a chance to walk through one. I can see I will have to make a point of the Buzay one – it looks fabulous, and just small enough to make one daydream – must buy more lottery tickets…..

    Having said that, when Amy and I come past your area Susan I fully expect a guided tour of the fortified chateau you have there – that looks thoroughly fascinating for totally different reasons! Did you do a blog on this place last year or the year before? Is that the same one?

    • Hi Simon, yes this is the same Chateau fort that I blogged about in January 2016, it is fabulous how they have restored it and are continuing to do so all the time. They have now found the original ruins as I mentioned from even earlier and it will be wonderful to be able to explore these in the future. Chateau de Buzay is exactly as you say, small enough to actually be able to dream about living there, albeit with a vast cash reserve from a lottery win to pay for the upkeep and heating, but that’s what dreams are about isn’t it! You will enjoy exploring both and then one or two others as well, there is never a shortage of chateaux to visit and it never gets boring. For me the gardens alone are always a great pleasure. xx

  • ah what a wonderful post. I love history and Europe has so much history. I loved watching the Escape to the Chateau that we had the pleasure of watching recently here in Australia. I would love to see inside these amazing buildings. To own and live in one would be a dream of mine. Thank you again xx

  • You’ve captured all the romance here Susan. It’s my favourite thing to poke about these glorious places and I really love the slightly smaller ones as my imagination can run riot as if I’m living there! One of the best things about this country and normally quite reasonable to visit too.

    • Yes I totally agree with loving the slightly smaller ones, they somehow seem far more realistic, one can have those “if I won the lottery” sort of day dreams! I would happily live in Chateau de Buzay, it is in a fabulous location, just ten minutes or so from La Rochelle and the village is lovely, in fact there is nothing not to like about it at all, so long as one had unlimited funds just to pay for the heating and a team of staff and gardeners!! Xx

  • I love a spot of French property porn. I often wonder whether we should sell up on the Cote d’Azur and buy a small chateau. Then reality kicks in. Do I really want all that extra work?

    • Ha ha, well prices are probably somewhat equivalent! But then you might miss the Côte d’Azur sunshine and as you say all of the upkeep with a chateau must be immense just to keep the walls from crumbling! But French property porn is always a good idea! Xx

  • It is so true that when you say ‘château’ to a non-French person they will instantly imagine Chenonceau or Azay le Rideau and are none the worse for the imagining. And yet, this country is SO rich in châteaux and your article highlights two beauties one that I knew (Buzay) quite a lot about and the other that reminds me so much of many of the fortified manor houses and castles that smatter the countryside of Auvergne and Rhône Alpes. I dream of owning one. I am convinced I was mistaken at birth because it is entirely clear to me that I SHOULD be living in one. Nothing ostentatious just oozing history would do me just fine. Thank you … you have me dreaming again xx

    • And you have me wanting to ask a lot of questions. First and foremost how do you know quite a lot about chateau de Buzay? I didn’t know you knew this area at all and so I am thinking you must know the owners?? Now onto the chateau fort, I think you should find one and dedicate the rest of your life to restoring it! I think you would probably actually be able to buy one very reasonably, it would be the renovation that might just cost a few hundred thousand plus plus plus!! It is always good to dream! Xx

      • When I sit down and list the places in France that I have either visited or indeed dwelled in over the last 40+ years it accounts for quite a mass of the hexagon. I have actually stayed at Buzay but not as an intentional guest, rather I was travelling with a friend who did indeed know the owners. We were a party of four en route to the South of Spain and JC had costed the stop in without us knowing. I was the only girl and was getting really fed up with the maddeningly macho mood of my companions and it was exactly the tonic I needed. I vowed that evening that this was exactly the sort of place I needed to live in and that life had clearly been a dreadful mix-up to that point. I hadn’t thought about it in decades so thank you for the lovely reminder. Believe me, if Two Brains has his way it will be a life lived in a château féodal and to hell with the consequences. We both have the itch but we also have the dull voice of reason that says can we really do it as our years are rapidly advancing. Watch this space in about 18 months from now. Having made that brazen statement we’ll probably end up in a lotissement 😱 xx

      • Sounds like it was quite a trip! A chateau féodal with roaring log fires and all the grandchildren coming to stay, I can just picture it, they will talk about it for ever, their grandparents living in the coolest place imaginable! Now of course you just need to fill in a few minor details, you need to persuade your children you need a whole tribe of grandchildren and you need to find the right chateau and you need to get to work, but hey, wouldn’t it be fun! Count me in as your first visitor! xx

      • We actually very nearly bought one … like about to sit in the Notaires office and sign the papers nearly bought one but had a lucky escape. Its a story which I did write about at some point …. we still harbor the dream and dreams really can come true … look at you! Xx PS: Obvs you will be first through the studded oak door but do remember to wear Wellie’s in case the draw bridge is faulty and you have to ford the moat 😆

      • Ha ha, so long as it’s not too deep! But I am scared of ghosts and I do actually believe in them! We’ve had a few lucky property escapes over the years, one time we too were signing on the dotted line, actually it was in the UK, it would have been a huge mistake and ruined us financially forever!! Dreams come true if we work hard enough, or at least that is what I tell myself! Thanks for the fab email, I will reply, I will reply!!! xx

      • 1) take your time …. there is no timescale for response and 2) the place we almost bought had been owned by a couple who had bought it and restored it to a large extent as their life’s work. On the second visit I mentioned to their grandson who was showing the place that there was a window I didn’t understand because I couldn’t find it inside the house. ‘Oh’, he said ‘That’s where my grandparents ashes are interred… we put them there so they can look over the valley for all time’. I’ve often wondered if they would have been welcoming or a nuisance (I believe in ghosts but am not necessarily scared of them) …. the castle was built in the 11th century by the way and the structure was wholly original …. 😨

      • OMG, I wonder if they ever sold it telling people that, or perhaps some would find that a bonus, a great story to share at dinner with unsuspecting weekend guests! I think I would have run a mile too. But an 11th century castle really would be amazing. Our village has several houses built in the 12th century and I find myself looking more and more at the stonework and just marvelling at the workmanship nearly a thousand years ago. xx

  • I’m ready to tour a chateau or six after being caught up in your storytelling and descriptions. Buzay is so very beautiful, and I’m looking forward to your tour of the interiors. I love that the owners are residing in the chateaux–thank you for turning our attention toward these lovely homes that challenge the notion that beauty always fades. My thought is, beauty simply transforms. xox

    • My thought is that beauty actually gets better with age, I think the stones mellow and after centuries they still look fantastic. The chateau fort is incredible, to think it was built nearly a thousand years ago, no machinery back then, it really makes a mockery of what we build today I think. I still cannot imagine how long it must have taken and how they got the stone into place. Chateau de Buzay is a very elegant home, not so enormous and I think that is what I rather love about it. I can’t wait to show you the interiors in the future of both of them. Xx

  • I always love reading everyone’s comments, I learn so much from them! And right now I too am dreaming of living in Buzay and buying up an old castle to renovate, sigh, I guess I will just have to keep on dreaming!

    • Wouldn’t that be just perfect, Chateau de Buzay is just ten minutes from La Rochelle, so a perfect almost city residence for the week and then the chateau fort which is more rural for escaping to the real countryside during the weekends and for those fabulous walks down through the Marais, the ancient salt marshes. Oh well it is good to dream is it not! Xx

  • Oh please show us more yet of these incredible chateaux! Your photography’s is fabulous. Again, we learn so much as well as feast the eyes!!!
    Thank you so much for this thoughtful and beautiful journalism!

    • It is always fun to come across chateau when one least expects them, places that I had no idea even existed, a chance passing in the car usually has me either turning around very fast or making a note of the place so that I can return! xx

  • French châteaux truly have to be some of the best architectural eye candy the world has to offer. These two you ha e served up are not so typical but stunning in many counts none the same. I did enjoy my tour around them both with you and I could walk in those salt marshes for hours. Two contrasts that link very well together, great post.

    • I totally agree with you Jane, these two are not typical in many people’s eyes, which is perhaps what draws me to them in the first place, I always like things that are a little different! Both are stunning in their own way though and I cannot wait to show you more. xx

  • Hi Susan,
    We may not have been there for long but I feel so homesick at seeing these beautiful photographs. The local fort was a great place to visit and a lot of care has been taken inside to try and recreate what life was like inside the fort. Didn’t get to see Chateau de Buzay but it is now on my list of places to see next time. So many lovely examples of ‘Chateau’ all over France one could spend a life time exploring them all. I see the colours are turning over there, warming up here just had two days of 35 deg C and it’s not summer yet. Take care regards to you all.

    • I can fill a book with the places you need to visit the next time! Now you can make plans!! The colours are turning, but not significantly, either leaves are dropping or they are remaining resolutely green. This week was in the mid 20’s again, just fabulous. Hope it doesn’t get too hot with you, 35C in spring is way too warm xx

  • What a wonderful post! I love learning new things. The history of the fortress is so fascinating, built in 1100 WOW. Amazing.

    I cannot wait to see the inside of these two homes. I must admit I am partial to the second one. And I love that you included photos of the cottages, etc attached to the property to support the chateau.

    Looking forward to more.

    • I could rather happily live in the second one, it is small enough to be able to imagine it as a large family home, well it is good to dream. I am looking forward to showing you the interiors in the future xx

  • Always such beautiful views – lucky you to live in such a place! I’m not downplaying the beauty of North Georgia (!) and we have our share of “chateaux” – but they are largely of the McMansion type and, sadly, are moreoften irritating to gaze upon, rather than uplifting. Looking forward to the interiors!

  • Yeah, this is France too, bien sûr. Wonderful tales you tell – did the owners of the grand château have an ‘portes ouvertes’ day? You seem to have had access quite closely to the bone! Some friends of ours call our home a ‘château musée’ too, because it sits bang in the middle of the grounds, it has on the ground floor quite majestical details such as wall paintings of the Versailles garden, signed 1934, whereas the house itself was finished in 1920), it sports fabulous mosaic floors and dark parketts, wonderful (and some badly damaged) freeze-tiles bands waving around the 3m high walls, the sitting room bit has an elaborate ceiling with angels, doves and guirlandes… Only our finances are anything but château-like… sadly!!! There still would be so much to be done, if only (the word IF wouldn’t exist!)…. Thank you for this history lesson. We showed some tiny bit of the French cultural riches to my mother in law for her 85th birthday, she wanted to stay in a Loire Château – we only stayed one night but visited some places in the area. Great food for thought too!

    • No they didn’t, we just happened to be passing when it was open and enjoyed walking around the grounds for half an hour. Your house sounds absolutely fabulous, whether there is much to be done or not, it just sounds amazing and fascinating and so interesting. There are so many incredible places to visit in France, so much history, something really to suit everyone xx

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