A Gascony of a thousand châteaux
Famous for its rich architectural heritage, Gascony is home to a multitude of châteaux, hence why it has earned the nickname ‘Gascony of a thousand châteaux’.
The term « château Gascon » was invented by Philippe Lauzun, writer and founding President of the Gers Archeological society in 1891. He depicts these fortifications as anchorage points that made up a line of defence between the English and French during the Hundred Years’ War. Another theory by the famous 20th century historian, Jacques Gardelles, contradicts this idea and states that these castles were more likely residential than military.
Although their origins and functions cannot be agreed on, the originality of the Gascon chateaux’ architecture built between the late 13th and early 14th centuries, is surprising. There is a certain eccentricity that lies in the peculiar layout of the building: they are taller than they are wide, included a dwelling, a great hall and an attached tower whereas traditionally the dwellings with towers were detached. Finally, the entrance to the châteaux is not on the ground floor by on the first floor and access was by ladder or a detachable staircase!
The appearance of most of the chateaux has evolved over the years and today many of them are private residences. For visitors who wish to discover these jewels of Gascon architecture, some of them open their doors to the public. Among some of the must-sees, it is possible to visit Château Monluc in Saint Puy, the Château de Termes d’Armagnac, where the tower is a listed building, and Château de Terraube in the Gers.
Vestiges of history, the Gascon châteaux are an essential feature of the region’s heritage. Perched on top of a hill, overlooking a village or situated by a river, they invite walkers to revel in a unique and enchanting landscape.