Once upon a time, the Château de Charmes on the Herbasse
The architecture of this castle remains imprint of feudalism, built at the top of a hill overlooking the village of Charmes on Herbasse. The impressive house makes us travel through the centuries, at the time of the valiant knights, noble lords and other romantic stories. The castle was established in the 12th century instead of a simple wooden fort dating from the 10th century. A prime location to ensure the surveillance and the defense of the valley of the Herbasse. Moreover its medieval architecture underlines this defensive function, a building protected with two towers on the south facade and whose dungeon is still present on the north side.
This castle was the residence of Imbert de Batarnay, who is none other than the grandfather of Diane de Poitiers, Countess of Saint Vallier and Duchess of Valentinois. It was for 20 years the favorite of Henry II King of France. From the Renaissance, the Château de Charmes sur l’Herbasse became a place of residence. Through the ages, over the various owners, the openings have been modified, the castle has been enriched with fireplaces, ponds and other decorations.
The Château de Charmes sur l’Herbasse today
Abandoned in 2010, squatted, plundered, the castle lose some of its charm And yet ... Today the outside amazes as much as inside surprises. The different architectural styles mix, the pieces follow each other at the same time as the discoveries. It was and remains today a place of residence and it is thus the castellans that make you visit their home and tells you its history. Mr. Pierre Dussert de Rougement, the owner, does not wish to make refurbishment but rather preserve the charm of the old and not only ... This castle has had several lives and keep the stigma of each of them, even the most devastating. Today, eras coexist in a 12th century castle. Contemporary artists have even show their works of art in this place, making this heritage live in an original and unexpected way. Concerts are organized in the course and / or the grand salon, a whole program !
My visit of the Castle
I had the chance to discover this castle twice.
The first time, a year ago, during European Heritage Days, thanks to the aux Amis du Château - Comté de Charmes sur l'Herbasse which opened the castle during these two days. The photo illustrating the event really fascinated me, it was unthinkable to miss the opportunity to enter in this monument. A warm welcome, some exchanges with the volunteers and a free visit. The incredible number of rooms, the view from the donjon, the jail, the chapel ... Professional deformation requires, As a guide, I imagined different thematic visits and other treasure hunts. However the opening of the castle was then exceptional despite all the potential of the place.
But one morning in July, it is a call of Nicolas Chenivesse, guide and newly castellan, announcing me the opening of the castle of Charmes to the visit for the summer season, what a good new ! I have to visit it, once again. The architecture of this castle is for me enchanting and impressive. We are easily charmed ;) by these old stones. It was Mr. Dussert De Rougemont who did me the honor to welcome me and to present me the first work done. The mission was huge, reminding the work of a certain Ferdinand Cheval, architect of the Palais du facteur Cheval, which was born in Charmes sur l’Herbasse, funny coincidence isn’t it? From the reception, I was surprised by the terrazo floor with its mosaic, yet already present during my first visit. You can access to the first floor via a splendid monumental staircase and let yourself be told the life of the castle, that of yesterday and today. On the 2nd floor, contemporary art, where various artists exhibit. A third floor with limited access to the cardholder pass' reserves a few surprises for the more curious. The visit ends in the kitchen and as in Ardèche Hermitage everything is a question of taste and friendliness, place to housewines tasting. My second visit to the castle of Charmes was finally the conclusion of the first, the visit far from being classical is accessible and exciting. Notice to the curious, you will not be disappointed!
Opening of the Château de Charmes
Outside the summer season the castle of Charmes welcomes you by appointment.
Prices: Adults € 6, Reduced * € 4, Children (under 14) € 2, Guided tours + € 2
* Conditions of reductions (upon presentation of valid proof): Student, jobseeker
The Château de Charmes will be open as part of the European Heritage Days on September 15 and 16, the weekend's highlight.