img_0365Around Christmas, making a detour around the gilets jaunes, I passed through the charming village of Pennautier and pulled over. I have you to thank. In the past, I would have craned to peek down the interior streets but I wouldn’t have stopped. Now, I park and get out my camera.img_0369 Pennautier is a stone’s throw from Carcassonne. Prehistoric tools have been found, but it didn’t take off until the Romans came along around 100 B.C.  and put up some fortified agricultural buildings. In 508, King Clovis the First gave the territory to one of his lieutenants and called it Pech Auter, which means High Old Warrior. On a rocky hill with a river nearby, the village was fortified by walls that were torn down in 1591 probably because the village was a refuge for Protestants, according to the mairie.img_0370img_0383It doesn’t look like the heart of the village has changed much over the centuries. It’s a maze of narrow streets, improbably full of cars parked as close as possible to one wall, because there’s barely room for anybody to pass.img_0387img_0379img_0377


It was late on a Saturday and raining when I stopped. I saw quite a few people walking briskly, then realized they were going to church.

Notice the hand rail. Yes, it’s steep. No sidewalk.

img_0376img_0371img_0368Unfortunately, the château was closed. The top photo shows just one end of it; you’re missing the broad front. It’s called the Versailles of Languedoc! Huge! It was built in 1620 by Bernard Reich de Pennautier. You have to watch the video clip on the château’s site, especially the bed that was a gift of King Louis XIII when he visited in 1622.img_0389img_0390In 1670, the son, Pierre-Louis de Pennautier, took over and added on.  He hired Louis Le Vau, who was the architect of Versailles, to design the wings, and Andre Le Nôtre, who did the gardens at Versailles, to design those at Pennautier. Starchitects of the 1600s.img_0359 2img_0367img_0363 2

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The tower is across the street from the château and used to be its pigeon coop.

The whole place was redone in 2009 and now has 24 double and twin rooms, but you have to book a minimum of four bedrooms or two suites.

Nice staircase up to the vineyards.

Did I mention they make wine, still today? Good stuff.

The château is on my to-do list for the next Journées du Patrimoine.img_0382img_0391








31 thoughts on “In the Heart of Pennautier

  1. Simply lovely, and a reminder of how rich in history, fascinating stories, and unexpected discoveries “la province” really is. Of course, you have to leave Paris once in a while and be willing to explore to find out 😉 I smiled when you mentioned how you spotted this treasure from you car, had to stop and take out your camera. I would have done the same! Once a blogger, always a blogger. Bonne semaine, Catherine. — French Girl in Seattle

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes the blog can work for you instead of the other way around – so grateful you snapped these and shared the interesting history and chateau. Catching up here as I have been mostly absent from blogland. Surgery for me then my husband then my mom has drawn me away from plugged in time. In Arizona now helping with her post-op needs, soaking up sunshine and staying awed by the landscape. Thanks for these delightful posts and sharing your journey so authentically. xox

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  3. Another discovery for us to enjoy. I love it. We really need more time in your area, instead of just whistle stops. We are thinking of it. So many wonderful villages to explore.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely little discovery to read about as I sit here under a cold grey sky, frozen to me bones. Thanks for doing the legwork for the rest of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for taking the time to show us this town and the buildings. Aren’t you glad they chiseled in stone the date the building was erected? The date and your history gives us more perspective about what was going on at the time and how they lived. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love all the dates on doorways. I did a whole post of them once. I am always curious how people restored places, sometimes better than others, and how nothing is straight.


  6. This was definitely worth stopping and taking pictures. (Merci!) I chuckled at the thought of the pigeons in the tower. What a view they must have! (What a cool place this would be for a little séjour.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know exactly what you mean about stopping because you smell a blog post. Sometimes I worry about over curating my life in this way, but things often turn out to be way more intriguing than you would think at first glance. I’m always glad I stopped.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Isn’t that bed incredible? The textiles haven’t aged at all.

    France and Europe in general has so many great spots to visit. Photos like this really make me miss France.

    We once stayed at Châteaux Mirambeau in Bordeaux and it is an experience I will never forget.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s incredible is how the place has changed hands but the furniture has stayed there and has been taken care of. I think it rarely sees the light of day or it would have faded.


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