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Chateau LaBredetourist information guide
Address: LaBrede, 33650
Tel: +33 (0)5 56 20 20 49
Opening Times: Daily East-Nov; Suns Mar-East | Admission Charge
To the south of Bordeaux lies a medieval gem so ancient that Charlemagne is said to have stayed here. Gothic in style and polygonal in shape, Chateau LaBrede is suspended in the middle of a lake that borders a forest.
Chateau LaBrede is famous for its owner Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu. He was later known as Montesquieu (1680-1755), a poet, politician, writer and philosopher and one of the most forward thinking men of his time.
It was at Chateau LaBrede that Montesquieu loved to spend his time and it's not hard to see why. He was actively involved in the vineyards that surrounded the castle and the sale of the wine produced here. He also had a hand in the design of the park that was inspired by the layout of a contemporary English garden.
Chateau LaBrede was reconstructed between 1300 and 1309. The outbreak of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) when most of the French nobility sided with England and Henri II Plantagenet meant that Chateau LaBrede needed to be fortified. Stronger defences were built in 1419. Not much, however, has changed since the 16th-century modifications apart from the inclusion of mullioned windows on the outside walls.
When France won back Les Landes from the English, the family fled to Britain leaving Chateau LaBrede to the French Crown. Charles VII called an amnesty in 1453 and restitution took place.
You cannot fail to be impressed by Chateau LaBrede as you cross the drawbridge over a wide moat which is actually a lake. You'll be met with an array of turrets, buttresses, half-timbered upper floors, red-tile roofs and a tall donjon.
The interior of Chateau LaBrede is impressive too. The former guard hall is a long, barrel-vaulted room that Montesquieu turned into a library. It was here that many a revolutionary and republican idea was borne.