Dordogne- land of 1001 Chateaux
Dordogne Chateaux. The Dordogne has an undeniable richness of architecture, landscape, culture and renowned reputation as the land of ‘1001Chateaux’, signifying its historical importance. The fact that many of these Dordogne Chateaux are fortified reflects its history as an area of conflict between France and England in the Middle Ages but it is also renowned as hosting some of the world’s most important sites of prehistoric dwelling in the area of Lascaux. It is no surprise given its history that the Dordogne region has the highest concentration of noble dwellings in France.
But what exactly can be classed as chateaux, and how do we know there are 1001 in the Dordogne? The term ‘Chateaux’ originated from the latin ‘castellum’ which is a diminutive of ‘castrum’. Today the term ‘chateaux’ in widely used to refer to a variety of dwellings aspiring to varying degrees of grandeur. The term was originally most commonly used to define a medieval construction destined to protect the “seigneur” and as a symbol of his authority over his fief or noble domain. In current usage the term is generally used to designate a castle or fortress or large country house in the French countryside, be it a chateau, chartreuse, gentilhommière or manoir. According to the Architectes du Batiments de France, if you encompass all definitions, there are actually around 3000 chateaux in the Dordogne today, and they are still being built. There are 615 Dordogne chateaux and 382 ‘demeures’ listed as Historic Monuments of France.
The Larousse French dictionary gives the following four definitions:
1. Seigneurial or royal dwelling
2. Large and beautiful country home
3. Fortified feudal dwelling, protected by a moat, walls or towers
4. When followed by a name with a capital letter designates a wine-growing estate in the Bordeaux appellation
The international press often focuses on this remarkable collection of buildings, not just because Dordogne chateaux are beautiful to look at and set in extraordinary surroundings. It is also because a Dordogne chateau for sale is remarkably good value for money when one considers all that it has to offer.
When you actually cross the threshold of these historical buildings, you really get a sense of the past and see at first hand the incredible detail in the craftsmanship that went in to their construction and decoration, be it the carving of a stone fireplace, or painted beams ‘ à la française’ that have stood the test of time.
It is a common dream to want to become the proud owner of one of the Dordogne’s reputed 1001 chateaux. Our team at Maxwell-Storrie-Baynes live and work in this area of France and are well placed to introduce you to one of these grand historic buildings.