Friday, 23 July 2010

Chateau de Lanquais

We’ve been out for most of the day since the day again began with rain, but it brightened (marginally) by eleven and we set off for the Chateau de Lanquais, billed as Le Louvre inacheve du Perigord, un retour dans la vie quotidienne du moyen-age a la Renaissance. (For those of you who resort to dictionaries (like me!) this translates as the Unfinished Louvre of Perigord, a return to everyday life from the middle ages to the Renaissance.
We found it easily enough three or four miles south of La Dordogne.

The track to the chateau was extremely bumpy, and its a good thing we were not driving the low slung roadster as we were last time in France, otherwise we would have grounded. We had to walk down a grassy track and up into a barn with a phenomenal roof with one end shaped like a wheel – the ticket office! In one door of the barn and out of another, and we had bypassed the big padlocked iron gates. Sadly no photographs are allowed inside the house, but I took lots outside.

Even dh was fascinated by the house, which is a building of two halves. It was a powerful fortress during the Hundred Years war with England, as you can possibly see from the pic of the older half of the chateau with its round tower. The story goes that in the mid-1500s Catholic Isabeau de Limeuil, cousin to Catherine de Medici, decide to add a wing to her castle and contracted the craftsmen who had built the Louvre in Paris. Before the new wing was completed, Protestant armies (it was a Proestant region of France) besieged it in 1577 and left the fa├žade pitted by cannonballs. You can definitely see the two halves – the Renaissance wing with its dormer windows, and the original medieval fortress.

The fireplaces take up most of the walls in which they are set. In the blue salon, the fireplace does 3xactly that. Two bedrooms, (one for Madam, one for Monsieur, but interconnecting) the dining room, the salons - there are two - and both the medieval and Renaissance kitchen are furnished. The cellars, built entirely of stone, had curved roofs, vegetables stored in sand and meat in salt; and beneath them were the souterrains, or caves – to which thankfully, access was blocked. The cellars were bad enough. A family party with two small boys went around at the same time, and Dad jokingly put the light out for a second or two. Guess who squeaked? Yep, moi.

The chateau was built of limestone. The stairs had wide grooves indicating where people had walked over the centuries, and some steps had so worn that they were replaced with wood. The floors and ceilings of the upper stories were wood, and the wooden windows and shutters were all unpainted. In some cases the shutters were so old, the wood itself had flaked. The tootings - those stones sticking out of the gable wall - indicate where an additional wing had been planned but never completed.
Some of the furniture was sixteenth century; barley sugar legs, and sturdy dark tables with balls carved in decreasing size as the leg tapered to the floor, which was great for me and the latest wip, so I’ll be working that in somehow (without being obvious, of course!)
The same family has owned Lanquais since 1732, but I’m not sure they live in it, though lots of doors are marked Privee. But maybe they do. Very creepy, I would have thought.


Anne Whitfield - author said...

Your holiday in France sounds wonderful, Jen. You are very lucky to spend time there. It looks beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I spent a summer at the Chateau de Lanquais working as a guide in English, and yes, the owners do live in the chateau for stretches of time during the year. Their rooms are in the tower area, and there are also some little bedrooms (and a modern bathroom) tucked near the rooms you see on the tour.
We had to use a flashlight to navigate from room to room (and to get to the hidden bathroom) at night. It was creepy because sometimes bats would get in and swoop around.
I had a wonderful time there and treasure my memories. I'm glad that it's still open to the public.

Anonymous said...

cool but is this place really haunted?I have a friend that is lanquais!