Le château du Barroux

en Provence

 

 

A few words of History...

At the time of its construction, in the 12th century, the castle of Le Barroux was a mighty keep surrounded by thick bulwarks, which was to protect the plain of the Comtat Venaissin against Saracen and Italian invasions.

 

It was the seat of the seigniory which belonged successively, from the 12th to the 15th century, to the families des Baux, de Budos, de Ricavi, de Peyre, de Cardaillac, de Rovigliasc, de Pelletier de Gigondas and de Noret.

 

In 1274, as the Pope took possession of the Comtat Venaissin, Le Barroux became a fiefdom dependent upon the Apostolic Chamber of Carpentras until 1791, as the Comtat was joined to France. So, the tenant of the fief of Le Barroux was listed among the lords vassals and feudatories of Our Holy Father the Pope.

 

In 1538, in settlement of a debt, it became the property of Henri de Rovigliasc, earl of Veynes. At the height of the Renaissance, he transformed the military, uninhabitable stronghold into a superb residence.

 

Demarcating the courtyard, more recent fortifications complete the defence system of the castle. They were built about 1680-90 through the impetus given by Vauban (Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, a brilliant army leader, was Marshal of France under King Louis XIV; he surrounded the Kingdom with fortified towns, particularly along the Scheldt, the Meuse and the Rhine).

 

Then, the history of the castle took on more sombre colours... Having been abandoned, it was harmed by the revolutionary hordes in 1793; sold in the 19th century, it was completely falling in ruins, and was used as a stone quarry for nearly 150 years...

 

Mr. Vayson de Pradennes, an industrialist, took a passion to this spot. Having purchased it, he undertook a very considerable part of reconstruction, on his own funds, between 1929 and 1939. Dozens of masons and stone cutters worked on the site, hewing stones and rebuilding the walls. Unfortunately, Mr. Vayson died in an accident in 1939.

 

The war was starting, and the work was stopped outright. During the war the castle was partly used as an observation post by the German occupying troops.

 

In 1944, the Resistance fighters shot down a German soldier in an ambush. In retaliation against this shadow army, the occupying troops gathered the inhabitants of Le Barroux, with the intention of executing civilian hostages. Fortunately, the leader of the German detachment would yield and not take this vengeance, but the platoon set the castle on fire as it went away. It was on fire for 10 days. It was the 24th of August 1944, the day before the liberation of Paris...

 

The damage was extensive, and a new restoration was started as soon as 1960 by Dr Mouliérac-Lamoureux, an army medical officer, once again on private funds. Several films were shot here, in 1977-78 (The Sword Of Ardouaan) and 1980 (The Tales Of The Perched Cat).

 

Since 1993, the Association of the Friends of the Castle of Le Barroux has been continuing this work, with the support of the family Vayson de Pradennes, which still is the owner of the castle. Even though everything is not finished yet, the castle can now welcome its visitors and offer a splendid setting to various cultural and artistic events as well.