Above is a photo of Chateau de la Brède.  Some French people would visit this beautiful chateau because it was the home of the early 18th century writer Montesquieu and to visit the 216 square metre vaulted library. For an overseas visitor it is probably the castle’s own history and beauty that is the main interest.  The castle dates from 1306 with later changes, for example altering the three drawbridges, rather more practicable!  It was passed through families but is now a foundation with the aim of preserving the castle and its availabilty to visitors.  There are many superb rooms that can be viewed.
   So What Is A Chateau - Actually Spelt Château? The word chateau covers several types of property.   For this page we have used the English word castle as opposed to chateau.  This is because on this page we are including fortified castles as opposed to wine chateau.  In French the word chateau, in the singular of chateaux in the plural sense normally is used to cover both defensive buildings and wine chateau or just grand houses. In the Medoc, also known as the left bank, the chateaux are mainly very imposing buildings that make wine.  Castles built for defensive purposes are rare in the Medoc.  In other areas of the Gironde there are chateaux built as important residences that also make wine but there are also many chateaux, typically of medieval origin, which were built with fortifications.  Whilst some of these also make wine that was typically not their original purpose. Especially in Saint Emilion, but also elsewhere in the Gironde, the term chateau is used for a wine estate.  Some of these properties do have grand houses but sometimes the houses themselves are more modest. So we have wonderful houses, sometimes making wne but sometimes not.  Castles built as defenses.  Grand houses or modest houses that make wine.  All of these can be called a chateau. This page tries to give a flavour of the castles close to us, the chateau at Rauzan is just five minutes away. As house owners many of us worry about costs of maintenance but think of the problems of total rebuilds every century or so that many castles have required after battles between nations or families. Many of these castles have connections with famous writers or artists, for example Chateau de la Brède, left above, or Chateau Malromé, below. There are many other towns with castles to visit, for example Duras and Cadillac, see Places to Visit. For guests who wish to visit chateaux primarily for wine tastings please see the pages Vineyard Visits and Wine Tours.  We have sometimes found that wonderful historic castles may not be the best places to buy wine.
Above is the Château Royal de Cazeneuve and it is an historic 13th century castle once home to the kings of Navarre, and later King Henri IV of France and his wife Queen Margot.  The château and its grounds have been lovingly restored to their former glory.  The castle features royal quarters fitted out with authentic period furniture, as well as a storehouse, outbuildings and a medieval wine cellar.  Visits to the gardens and interior are possible.
Above is the chateau de Rauzan which is just five minutes away from Beau Séjour.  It was built in the 13th century  by Jean-Sans-Terre, (John Lackland), King John of England.  The castle then had a complicated history, being fought over in the 100 hundred years war between France and England, being captured twice by the French.  Later it was  used as a residence until abandoned in the late 18th century.  Part of its roof was burnt during the revolution and some of its stones were taken for building and the making of tombstones   In 1862 it was classed as an historic monument and some restoration has taken place but it is largely ruined.  Visits are possible or you can just wander around or have a picnic.
The photo above is of the new chateau de Roquetaillade.  Yes the ‘new’ chateau built in 1306.  On this site there had been a much older fortress, built originally in wood and then later in stone.  This chateau was built with the permission of Edward I the King of England.  Despite wars and revolution the castle is still home to the same family.  Despite reading and asking how this was achieved , we cannot find out.  Visits are possible in French but with information printed in English.
Above is a photo of Chateau Malromé.  This chateau is famous as being the family home of Toulouse Lautrec but it has its origins in the 16th century with many changes being made over the centuries especially in the 19th century.  Visits are possible.
Above is a photo of the Chateau de Montaigne showing the round tower to the right.   The castle has its origins the the 15th century but the castle mainly dates from the 19th century having been rebuilt after a fire in 1885. It was originally the home of the 16th century philospher Michel de Montaigne.  Visits are possible to the round tower,  not destroyed by fire and therefore more original, where he worked.  The rest of the castle can be seen from the outside.
                  Above is a photo of Chateau de Vayres.  It was built on the banks of the Dordogne river quite close to Libourne, unusually not on comparatively high ground but built as a defense for Bordeaux.  In the 100 years war between France and England the owners of the chateau switched sides several times, not unusual, but not without some damage and problems of ownership. By the late 16th century it was largely ruined and was rebuilt.  However more battles followed with more damage in the 17th century and about 1700 the chateau was rebuilt in the style that can be seen today. After such a eventful life it is now an ideal spot for a picnic with events for children.
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