Pride of the Gers, the Château de Caumont

Cradle of many castles, Gers is a department of Occitanie, located in the south-west of France.

Located in Cazaux-Savès, the Château de Caumont is one of the most beautiful in the department. This building, built in the 16th century by Nicolas Bachelier, is a small part of the “pink city” in the countryside.

THE CASTLE

A vestige of the Renaissance, this mansion is listed as a historical monument.

Built on the remains of a fortified castle that once belonged to Gaston Phébus, the castle is made up of two bodies. Its construction, undertaken by Pierre de la Valette, ended in 1535.

The castle is made up of 2 hexagonal towers with bubble roofs (connected by a drawbridge which no longer exists) in medieval style and a square building in Renaissance style with 4 diamond towers and large openings.

The presence of 2 levels of vaulted undergrounds marked with numerous rooms testify to the presence of servants until the middle of the 20th century.

Because of its silhouette, it has received the nicknames of “Loire castle in Gascony Toulouse”, “Sleeping Beauty castle”, and “castle of the three musketeers”.

Inside, a Florentine-style staircase is adorned with the three classical Greek orders and mosaics pave the reception gallery.

This construction of red bricks and stones dominates with its slate roofs the park of 50 hectares which shelters several remarkable trees, including an oak of about 450 years and cedars of Lebanon.

In the 19th century, the owners were inspired by neo-Gothic and romanticism (pointed windows, battlements, magnificent troubadour frescoes in the red salon, etc.)

In 1979, Jean and Michèle de Castelbajac embarked on major restoration work. By leaving the main courtyard, the castle becomes closer to that of Dartagnan. This is what will allow the filming of the film “Les 3 Mousquetaires” in 2011.

FUNDRAISING

The owners are organizing a fundraiser to restore the spiral staircase dating from the 16th century. Located in the northern pepper tower of the castle, it allowed you to defend yourself by shooting with the sword with your right hand while protecting yourself from attackers.

The staircase being in danger, we put a shoring on the two levels of basement. We wall access to the basement for security reasons. Ultimately, the entire structure of the north wing is threatened.

It takes € 75,000, 35% of which is financed by DRAC Occitanie and 10% from private and business patrons by the Demeure Historique. It was therefore necessary € 40,000.

The first stage of collection allows the first emergency work to be carried out, The first level consists of restoring the first 10 steps: € 10,000. For each level, the cost of restoring the steps includes:

1.the restoration of the steps (resumption of steps by cutting or aggregating them) or laying new ones.

2.the repair of the portion of the wall corresponding, the “facing” .

3.the installation of a drain to collect the water from rains and drag them away.

In the event of exceeding: restoration of 10 additional steps per level (2, 3 and 4) to the tune of 10,000 € each. The following restoration will be the restoration of the ceiling of the Louis XIII gallery which threatens to collapse.

THE PARK

The park underwent many arrangements in the first half of the 19th century on the part near the castle. To develop it, the Marquise de Castelbajac, born Sophie de La Rochefoucauld, had new species planted, in particular Cedrus libani, hackberry, Judea trees, varieties of Sophora and palm trees.

She decides to build an ingenious underground irrigation system, with cisterns, waterwheels and pipes (destroyed in the 1960s). A pink brick cooler, built around 1850, is used to keep ice for the inhabitants of the castle: this small building, restored in 1995, is now part of the tour.

The castle has been classified as a historical monument since June 9, 1943,. The outbuildings including the stables and the park have been classified as historical monuments since May 30, 1984. They had been registered under the supplementary inventory of monuments historical records on April 17, 1947.

Since 2003, the event, “Rendez-vous aux jardins”, organized each year by the Ministry of Culture, has hosted the Parc de Caumont.

The richness and variety of parks and gardens in France and Europe are highlighted, as is the place of creation in this area.

During this meeting, the public, neophyte and enlightened amateur, discusses with garden stakeholders (owners, gardeners, horticulturalists, landscapers, etc.) by making known, conserving, restoring, creating gardens, transmitting know-how and training gardeners and art gardeners.

HISTORY OF OWNERS

Jean-Louis de Nogaret de la Valette, Duke of Epernon was born at the Château de Caumont. In the service of Henri III, Henri IV and Louis XIII, he was governor of Provence, Normandy, Angoumois, Aunis, Saintonge and Guyenne. Unmissable castle, Henri IV stayed there several times.

Since its construction, the building has always remained in the family, either by inheritance or by marriage. In 1819, Armand de Castelbajac married a descendant of the Duke of Epernon then bequeathed it to his descendants. In 1988, the Queen of England, Queen Mum, stayed at the castle as a guest.

Today Ghislain and Mathilde de Castelbajac have left Paris to take over the castle after the tragic disappearance of Viscountess Michèle de Castelbajac, murdered in 2014 by an imbalance.

A contemporary arts festival created in 2016 and directed by a cousin, the creator Jean-Charles de Castelbajac is part of the new directions.

The place hosts seminars, weddings or film shoots but also tourist visits. The owners organize fun underground games and treasure hunts for 6 to 14 year olds. The opening of a tea room and a shop allows visitors to rest and buy souvenirs.

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