Nigel has written to members (who should see his email for booking details):
In July, we shall be visiting the Collection nationale de nénuphars, established by Claude Monet’s botanist friend Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac at Le Temple-sur-Lot, near Ste-Livrade (for more see <https://www.latour-marliac.com/fr/>).
But our next outing will be on Wednesday 21 June, with lunch in Villandraut and a tour of the Château royale de Cazeneuve, near Préchac .
The following account of the château comes courtesy of Marion.
The river Ciron winds nonchalantly for nearly all of its 96 km, from the Landes wetlands to the Garonne near Langon. Flowing mainly under a thick canopy of woodland, its waters remain cool and in autumn are shrouded in the mist which encourages the formation of the fungus known as ‘pourriture noble’, essential for the production of Sauternes wine. But part of its course is steeped in history.
Near Préchac, on a site which was once that of neolithic hunters, the Dukes of Albret built a fortified manor house, a convenient stop-over for Edward I of England, Louis XIII and Louis XIV. After the death of Jeanne d’Albret in 1572, it was inherited by her son Henry of Navarre, much loved King of France, and his then wife Marguerite de Valois, better known as the ‘Reine Margot’, whose deeds and alleged misbehaviour are described in Alexander Dumas’ eponymous novel. Used as a favourite hunting lodge, they extended and remodelled it in the Renaissance style.
Margot not being able to produce an heir, Henry imprisoned her here while negotiating a divorce. Legend makes her (probably unfairly) something of a nymphomaniac, and she is said to have conducted her amours in a riverside grotto reached by an underground passage.
The château has been lived in ever since by descendants of the Albret family, the Dukes of Sabran-Pontevès, who have renovated and furnished it to a high standard, in styles ranging from the 16th to 18th century. It retains the atmosphere of a loved country seat rather than that of a fortified castle. In the 19th century, the surrounding parkland of 40 hectares was laid out in what the French call the ‘English style’, with grassland, specimen trees, a remarkable bamboo plantation, and walks down to the river and Margot’s grotto. The area is now a wildlife reserve.
The guided visit is in French, but written English translations are available. The visit will follow a moderately priced lunch on the riverside terrace of a nearby country bistrot.