About Château d’Airvault
A medieval castle situated in the small French town of Airvault in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, Château d’Airvault is considered to be “one of the rare remaining specimens of military architecture of the 11th century” by the historian Henri Bodin.
Airvault includes the listed monuments of the Saint-Pierre Abbey and church, both splendid examples of Romanesque architecture and overlooked by the castle on a hill.
Château d’Airvault history
According to Bodin, the castle was built on the site of the former Gallic oppidum and the builders of the castle were inspired by the square towers of this old oppidum and the way to put them on the ramparts. It is this peculiarity of construction which makes it possible to date the castle of Airvault at least to the 11th century.
During the 13th century, the strategic hilltop position made Château d’Airvault an important part of the powerful defensive system of the town. The castle was soon besieged and conquered in 1207 by Philip II of France.
In September 1565, Jean Ysoré, the lord of Airvault, had the honour of receiving Charles IX and the young prince of Navarre (future King Henri IV) at the château. After the Battle of Moncontour in which the Duke of Anjou (Henri III) was victorious, Coligny – commander of the beaten Calvinists – ordered that the château be razed in revenge against Ysoré who had played a part in his defeat.
Château d’Airvault today
What you can see today of Château d’Airvault are the curtain walls whose crenellation was levelled in the 1940s. Two quadrangular towers on the corners of the walls on the ramparts are dated to the 13th or 14th century. The main dwelling of the 15th century is located along the west curtain wall and among the outbuildings are the prison with its two vaulted cells lit by an arrow-slit and a stable.
Château d’Airvault is today open to the public as a bed and breakfast, and guests have the opportunity to see the castle’s medieval features.
Getting to Château d’Airvault
At the centre of Airvault town, you can easily find the Château d’Airvault from the nearby D938 if driving. Airvault is an hour and 45 minute drive via the N249 from Nantes or 4 and a half hours from Paris.