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Updated 2022-08-19
Pubdate 2022-08-19 in tourism
Antoine de Roquelaure


Lavardens actually consists in its entirety of a castle, a church, a dozen or so rather insignificant houses, and not much more. Yes, it does have Restaurant du Château; but unfortunately as bland as the rest of the village and not much to write home about. But why write about Lavardens at all then? Well, because even though the castle seems quite unassuming, it is a typical example of a chateau that held an important position early in historic France, but which was then quite quickly transformed into something else, namely a private dwelling.
In the 1620s, Antoine de Roquelaure, a French marshal, convened the eminent architects Pierre Souffron, the king's general architect, and Pierre Levesville, one of the architects behind the cathedral in nearby Auch. Antoine had the present castle built for his young wife, Suzanne de Bassabat, on the base of the ruins after the prior fortifications, mentioned in annals as early as the 1140s.
During the centuries after Antoine's death in 1625, the castle evolved very little, but it changed trustees several times and eventually ended up in a collective ownership between no less than twelve families. Necessary renovations were postponed, and the maintenance was very neglected, to the point where nature actually moved in; there were whole trees growing indoors after the collapse of the roof at some point during the 1920s!
Foto Lavardens av Nico206  CC
In 1957, a guardian angel finally came forth in the form of Vincent Steux who ensured that the castle was rescued from total destruction, and in 1961 he also managed to ensure the building was listed as a historical monument. The architecture is deliciously sparse, as it extends towards the vastness of the outdoors like a wedge; this was also one of its absolute strengths as a defensive structure once upon a time, it had clear views in all directions and could thus detect a possible enemy early and thereby quickly switch to defensive mode!
Foto Lavardens av Tibauk  CC
These days, the castle is open to the public and it provides an opportunity for a unique insight into a rurally located fortress that served as more than just barracks and fortification. Today, the Château de Lavardens is also a well-visited center for arts and crafts in Gascony, and every three years a very popular exhibition for glass artists, the Triennale des Verriers d'Art; this year is the sixth edition to be launched. There is also a very nice promenade of about ten kilometers circling around the village, which takes about 3 hours to walk, complete with a patchwork of old windmills, ponds and other accoutrements that belonged to a 17th century castle.
Foto Lavardens av Anthony Desurelles
For us, Lavardens is a place to stop for a few hours to stretch your legs on the way from a visit to Escapat and with your sights set on Sud Ouest, Cahors, or Bordeaux. But as always (at least when it comes to us!) there are a lot of locally produced goods to botanize among in amongst the huge selection of delicious fruits and vegetables, nuts, honey, breads, charcuterie and cheeses. As in most places in these areas, the landscape is like a cornucopia filled to the brim with goodies!
Video - Lavardens
Bruno Ohlzon
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