French Castles - Chateau de Peyras Roumazieres-Loubert

The Chateau de Peyras is magnificent
The Chateau de Peyras is magnificent | Source

The French Chateau de Peyras - A guided tour

What the Chateau de Peyras lacks in beauty it makes up for in romance. The romance of its ancient origins, the romance of its setting and the romance of its discovery. The story of the castle was narrated by the present owner Guy Broin on a guided tour organised by Tourisme Lacs Haute Charente on a hot and sunny evening in this secluded part of hidden France.

The chateau is just twenty minutes from Les Trois Chenes, our B & B and gite in Videix, Limousin. Just over the border of the Charente, but it's taken me eight years to finally see inside. Truly one of the best kept secrets of the region!

This is an account of my visit. (Do please note that this account is written from memory and that the tour was all in French. If you notice any errors or have anything to add, please do feel free to leave a comment in the box at the end of this article).

How to get there? A good question. I found it on my second attempt by going to the near-by village of Suris and following the signs.

Where to find the Chateau de Peyras

A markerChateau de Peyras France -
Le Château de Peyras, 16270 Roumazières-Loubert, France
[get directions]

The chateau is near the village of Suris

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A magnificent gate into the courtyardWe parked in the dense, shady woodland surrounding the castleOutside was a reminder of the castle's waring past
A magnificent gate into the courtyard
A magnificent gate into the courtyard | Source
We parked in the dense, shady woodland surrounding the castle
We parked in the dense, shady woodland surrounding the castle | Source
Outside was a reminder of the castle's waring past
Outside was a reminder of the castle's waring past | Source
Source

First impressions

After what seemed like a long journey following road, land and finally narrow tracks through the lovely Charente countryside, at its best on a sunny evening in early June, we finally arrived at the castle and were waved into the shadows of the wood to park the car. The small group of French and English local history enthusiasts were gathered under a tree in front of the castle. Once the group was deemed complete our host began his account of how he discovered the castle thirty three years ago almost completely hidden under a thicket of brambles. Somehow, everyone had forgotten that a castle ever existed on this site.


This is only the tip of the iceberg
This is only the tip of the iceberg | Source

The tip of the iceberg

After the fascinating account of the discovery and uncovering of this ancient monument, our guide started his account proper and astounded us by pointing to the ground and informing us that the castle actually goes down eight meters. The little windows in the tower, (illustrated right), that now appear just above ground level are actually on second floor. He gestured around to show the massive footprint of the original building and went on to explain why the castle was built.

Originally the chateau's raison d'être was defence. On the borders of the Limousin and Aquitaine this region was under constant attack over the years.

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Medieval machines of warA long courtyard at the back was used for trialsThe courtyard is walled with battlementsBelow the castelated wall was accommodation for soldiers. The land slopes down rapidly to the river Charente. Between the castle and river runs an ancient metal route.
Medieval machines of war
Medieval machines of war | Source
A long courtyard at the back was used for trials
A long courtyard at the back was used for trials | Source
The courtyard is walled with battlements
The courtyard is walled with battlements | Source
Below the castelated wall was accommodation for soldiers. The land slopes down rapidly to the river Charente. Between the castle and river runs an ancient metal route.
Below the castelated wall was accommodation for soldiers. The land slopes down rapidly to the river Charente. Between the castle and river runs an ancient metal route. | Source

Edward the Black Prince

The chateau de Peyras was a garrison for knights and soldiers. The English were one of the most constant enemies and the name of Edward, the Black Prince, 1330 – 1376, (Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine and father to Richard II) crops up fairly frequently. One of the first objects that you see upon arrival at the chateau is this medieval machine of war.

We passed through the great wooden gates just beyond the round tower in the photo above and found ourselves on a terrace that ran the length of the castle. To our left were ramparts and a sharp drop onto ground that sloped down to the river. We were told that in the past, below the level of the wall there was accommodation for the soldiers, and between the walls and the river ran the ancient metal routes while the courtyard itself was used to hold public trials.

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The long room has a magnificent fire placeRows of flags are displayedThe room is filled with weaponsThe room was half buried when the present owner found it
The long room has a magnificent fire place
The long room has a magnificent fire place | Source
Source
Rows of flags are displayed
Rows of flags are displayed | Source
The room is filled with weapons
The room is filled with weapons | Source
The room was half buried when the present owner found it
The room was half buried when the present owner found it | Source

The guard room

From the terrace we entered a long room which would have been on the first floor level originally. Decked out with brightly coloured heraldic flags, spears, axes and shields it sets the tone for the rest of the visit. Arms were displayed in almost every room.

Our host told us that when he first discovered the castle this room was so full of debris that his head touched the beams.

The room has an impressive chimney breast at one end and an arcade along one side.

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A model of how the chateau de Peyras would have lookedThe interior of the chateau
A model of how the chateau de Peyras would have looked
A model of how the chateau de Peyras would have looked | Source
The interior of the chateau
The interior of the chateau | Source

How the chateau would have looked

From the guard room we passed into a small chamber housing a model of how the chateau would have looked, massive, enclosed by high walls all around.

We had fun taking pictures by placing the cameras into the courtyard, giving the effect that we were standing within the walls of the castle itself.

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We were shown into  a tiny chapelThe chapel is lit by a small window with stained glass.
We were shown into  a tiny chapel
We were shown into a tiny chapel | Source
The chapel is lit by a small window with stained glass.
The chapel is lit by a small window with stained glass. | Source

The Chapel

From there we were shown into a tiny chapel. It was beautiful in its simplicity with a rough altar with rather brutally carved, painted images displayed upon it. The small chamber is lit by a narrow window with greenish stained glass (not original) and it cast an eerie light over the room and its artifacts.

Above the altar the wall a niche has been created and picked out in ochre paint. Over the niche a zig-zag line has also been picked out in red earth colours.

We followed our hosts out and were ushered up the smallest stone, spiral staircase imaginable. It was just wide enough for the members of our group, who were, luckily, all fairly slim.

Apparently at least one poor tourist had the ill-fortune to become wedged in. These stairs led to the blue bedroom.

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The blue bedroomThe beams were painted blueThe window seat was used to load the crossbowsThe tiles were laid loose on a bed of sandIt would have taken three people to load this lethal weapon
The blue bedroom
The blue bedroom | Source
The beams were painted blue
The beams were painted blue | Source
The window seat was used to load the crossbows
The window seat was used to load the crossbows | Source
The tiles were laid loose on a bed of sand
The tiles were laid loose on a bed of sand | Source
It would have taken three people to load this lethal weapon
It would have taken three people to load this lethal weapon | Source

The blue bedroom

We were shown into a small room containing a four poster bed hung in blue drapes, a massive wooden throne, a mannequin dressed in medieval robes and reading an illuminated book, a harp and a cross-bow. Above the beams had been painted blue and decorated. The floor was covered in earthenware tiles which had been loosely laid on a bed of sand over the beamed ceiling of the rooms below.

M Broin took this opportunity to demonstrate how the crossbow would have been loaded with an arrow by no less than three men (if I've understood correctly!) using the stone window seat for support. They would then have aimed the arrows through the window at the enemy down below.

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Guy tests the weight of medieval weaponsAnother massive fire placeAncient game of chess?To crown it all!
Guy tests the weight of medieval weapons
Guy tests the weight of medieval weapons | Source
Another massive fire place
Another massive fire place | Source
Ancient game of chess?
Ancient game of chess? | Source
To crown it all!
To crown it all! | Source

Of balls and chains and crowns of gold

There was an ancient-looking game of chess in the centre of the next room, and Guy introduced us to a weighty ball and chain, complete with wicked looking spikes. A suit of chain mail was displayed on the wall and, among other things a crown placed on a blue velvet cushion sat upon the mantelpiece.

Easy access to the bed and a chair designed to warm your back in front of the fire
Easy access to the bed and a chair designed to warm your back in front of the fire | Source

The green bedroom

After the blue room we entered a long corridor which housed row upon row of medieval costumes used in the medieval festivals and mock battles and other events that take place at the chateau. (Dates to be confirmed, but the advertising pamphlet states that they take place in September.)

Along the corridor there are a series of rooms and the next one that we entered was a room with a four-poster bed draped in green. The bed was specially designed for easy access and the chair at the bedside was open-backed to allow its occupant to toast their backs in front of the fire.

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The massive fireplace of the red bedroomThe corridors are lined with medieval costumesThe painted ceiling of the red bedroom
The massive fireplace of the red bedroom
The massive fireplace of the red bedroom | Source
The corridors are lined with medieval costumes
The corridors are lined with medieval costumes | Source
The painted ceiling of the red bedroom
The painted ceiling of the red bedroom | Source

The red bedroom

We enjoyed lifting the chain mail shirt outside the next bedroom to see just how heavy it was, (I could just about lift it up). The room that we entered has the same beam and ceiling decoration as the blue room but this time it was painted a brilliant, heraldic scarlet.

Again it had an impressive fireplace and we all enjoyed trying to lift the chunky bench before the hearth. The bench was designed to be used either way up.

When the owners found the castle there was no furniture all and the pieces in the house now have been collected by the owners over time. Apparently many objects were found in the barns of the surrounding houses and farms.

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The dining roomTapestry of the princesA figure wearing a suit of armour is fun for the kidsYet another impressive fire placeA small renaissance maquette.
The dining room
The dining room | Source
Tapestry of the princes
Tapestry of the princes | Source
A figure wearing a suit of armour is fun for the kids
A figure wearing a suit of armour is fun for the kids | Source
Yet another impressive fire place
Yet another impressive fire place | Source
A small renaissance maquette.
A small renaissance maquette. | Source

Dining room

The next room on our visit was laid out as a dining room and was filled with objects of interest. There was a tapestry of two young men, whose identity I missed.

There were several items of massive wooden furniture, a dining table and chairs, a bench and a cupboard. Again there was a magnificent fire place and to the right a mannequin dressed in a suite of armour and supporting a brightly patterned shield.

The obligatory cross-bow sat on a chair in the corner and medieval weapons lay on the sideboard, but on the back wall was a pretty and detailed maquet for a wall mural dating, I would guess, from the mid Renaissance.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The light is beautifulA beautiful window seatAn arched fire place taller than a manA significant stoneThere are collections of stones, materials and objects throughout the castle
The light is beautiful
The light is beautiful | Source
A beautiful window seat
A beautiful window seat | Source
An arched fire place taller than a man
An arched fire place taller than a man | Source
A significant stone
A significant stone | Source
There are collections of stones, materials and objects throughout the castle
There are collections of stones, materials and objects throughout the castle | Source

A collection of flints

The next corridor housed a collection of flints found on the site. This highlights the ancient proto-historical origins of the castle which dates from the 4th or 5th century BC.

The floor is made from small pebbles.

From here were led into a room with a splendid window seat set into the window ...

Room with a window seat

Like many other rooms this chamber is dominated by its fireplace, but the most beautiful element is the curved window seat below a tall window set back in the thick walls of the castle.

In this room there are two tables displaying stones and materials, presumably found on the site. Unfortunately the collections suffer from lack of labels and by this time my attention was flagging and I just concentrated on thaking the photos. This is a shame as I found it hard to follow the French commentary.

Down, down, down

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Down to the past castlesThe roof of the spaceDifficult to capture the curved forms of the underground spaceThe walls of the room above were painted blue.This room houses an interesting collection of objects found within the castle and groundsBack to the original long room
Down to the past castles
Down to the past castles | Source
The roof of the space
The roof of the space | Source
Difficult to capture the curved forms of the underground space
Difficult to capture the curved forms of the underground space | Source
The walls of the room above were painted blue.
The walls of the room above were painted blue. | Source
This room houses an interesting collection of objects found within the castle and grounds
This room houses an interesting collection of objects found within the castle and grounds | Source
Back to the original long room
Back to the original long room | Source

Into the bowels of the castle

This was the most exciting part of our tour. France is not great on 'health and safety' and we struggled and slithered down a rough path to the very bowels of the castle. We saw the vaults and piers that supported the upper layer and the curved ceiling. Our guide declined to come down with us and I'm not surprised!

Once back up the slope we turned our attention to a fascinating collection of all sorts of small items found in the chateau. Tiny glass bottls, buckles, necklaces, statues, coins and many other ancient objects each, no doubt, with its own history attached.

This was the only part of the tour my teenage boy really enjoyed!
This was the only part of the tour my teenage boy really enjoyed! | Source

Refreshments

The only part of the tour that my teenage son really enjoyed; (you'd think we didn't feed him!). The mairie kindly provided some much needed refreshments and an opportunity to chat between ourselves and with the castle's owner.

Details

  • Opening times: Sunday afternoons 2.30 - 6pm all year round (with exceptions) or by appointment for groups
  • Tel: +33 (0)5 45 71 25 25
  • Address 16270 Roumazieres-Loubert

Rochechouart castle is just ten minutes away from Les Trois Chenes
Rochechouart castle is just ten minutes away from Les Trois Chenes | Source

Our gite in Limousin

Our three star gite or holiday cottage sleeps seven people in three en-suite bedrooms and has a large open plan kitchen, dining room and living area.
Our three star gite or holiday cottage sleeps seven people in three en-suite bedrooms and has a large open plan kitchen, dining room and living area. | Source

Bed and Breakfast Rochecouart

show route and directions
A markerVideix -
Videix, France
[get directions]

Our bed and breakfast is near Rochechouart and not far from the Chateau de Peyras. Roumazieres-Loubert is about fifteen or twenty minutes away.

B markerChateau de Peyras -
Le Château de Peyras, 16270 Roumazières-Loubert, France
[get directions]

C markerRochechouart -
Rochechouart, France
[get directions]

D markerRoumazières-Loubert -
Loubert, 16270 Roumazières-Loubert, France
[get directions]

Roumazières-Loubert is famous for terracotta tile production.

Activity holidays for all the family in Limousin, S W France
Activity holidays for all the family in Limousin, S W France | Source
Pie birds make cute and collectable gifts for cooks
Pie birds make cute and collectable gifts for cooks | Source
Brantome is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France
Brantome is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France | Source

Find out more about the chateaux of France

The French Chateau: Life, Style, Tradition
The French Chateau: Life, Style, Tradition

What would life really have been like for those living in the castles of central France?

 
Chartes, Chroniques et Memoriaux pour servir a l'Histoire de la Marche et du Limousin (French Edition)
Chartes, Chroniques et Memoriaux pour servir a l'Histoire de la Marche et du Limousin (French Edition)

This castle is about half an hour from Les Trois Chenes and it's for sale! Well worth a visit

 

© 2011 Les Trois Chenes

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Comments 15 comments

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 3 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Thanks for leaving a comment, FlourishAnyway , and I'm so pleased it made you chuckle.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Great description with beautiful photos. I felt like I was there. France is so beautiful. I liked the little funny about that poor tourist who got himself wedged. Reminded me of Winnie the Pooh.


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 3 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

I'm so pleased you enjoyed the article. I expect the site is set up to prevent theft of the material as theft and plagiarism is a big problem for authors on the internet. Why not come and see the castle for yourself? Nothing like first hand experience.


Jimmy T 3 years ago

Hi. I loved the photos, but I can't save them onto my iPod. Do you know how to do this?


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 4 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Thank you so much Suzette, for these most encouraging words. I'm pleased that you like it. I must write more articles about all the castles around here, they are amazing. The Route of Richard the Lion Heart (route de Richard, Coeur de Lion) links a group of these castles together into a trail.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Really beautiful hub! I love castles and I have not seen that many in France - mostly cathedrals. But, I would stop to see these castles, they are so interesting and full of history. Your hub is laid out so interestingly. Your links to other hubs and information is amazing. You are so knowledgeable about your subject! Voted up and awesome!


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Would love to welcome you here, Palcro, if you ever make it to France. It is true we are blessed with castles and medieval paraphanalia in this beautiful part of France.


Palcro 5 years ago

Ever since I was a kid, I have always been facinated with castles and medievil times. You are so lucky to live where they are abundant. My wife and I are so looking forward to visiting France someday. Thanks for the great article, I will be definitely marking your hubs as a favorite.


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Hi Movie Master and Sherri. So pleased you enjoyed the hub. I'm afraid I ducked out of all the dry history - who fought who and won/lost when, and, you are right, there is very little on the web, even in French. At some point I'll trawl through what there is and, with son on hand to translate, will try to get a bit of history pulled together. Especially interested in The Black Prince - mostly because of his name - very Harry Potter.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

What an intriguing Hub! Fascinated by your story, I searched the net for more information about Chateau de Peyras and was so disappointed to find almost nothing above and beyond your words. I imagine there may be many "lost" chateaus in France, as there are many lost historical sites where I live. I'd love to know more about this place.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I love the history of castles and the history of your chateau is so absorbing, how fasinating that the castle had been forgotton and I envied you being able to venture down into the bowels of the castle, that would never be allowed in the UK!!! health & safety and all that! a great read thank you.


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Many thanks Gordon, CLHypno and dahoglund for dropping by. I do love looking around these buildings, but to meet the owners who FOUND one was special.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

To many Americans all castle are rather exotic.I guess we visits old forts as the next best thing.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Looks like a fascinating place to spend an afternoon. We English tend to forget that most of our medieval monarchs spent much of their time in their French territories either trying to extend them or trying to defend them.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

A fabulous and fascinating Hub. I used to love exploring old castles and the likes when I travelled. Incredible that a structure like this could have been essentially lost and forgotten about for so long.

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