About La Brède Castle
The Château de La Brède is a feudal castle in the commune of La Brède in the département of Gironde, France. The castle was built in the Gothic style starting in 1306, on the site of an earlier castle. It is surrounded by water-filled moats and an English garden, in the centre of a Bordelais vineyard. Despite modifications over the centuries, it has kept its character as a fortress.
La Brède Castle history
The site that the castle was built on was first mentioned in 1079 in the tale of a duel between the lord of La Brede and Hernandes, the champion of the army of Navarre. At that time, the castle was probably no more than a wooden fortification built on an artificial mound of earth.
The construction in 1306 was a much more robust, stone castle. It was designed with a large square courtyard, surrounded by water-filled moats. The fortress was involved in numerous conflicts over the years, especially during the Hundred Years War, when it was damaged by French artillery fire. As a result, the structure was fortified once more and a third moat was created and connected to the previous two.
The philosopher Montesquieu was born, lived and wrote the majority of his works here. He made few changes to the castle but transformed its surroundings significantly. He installed a modern irrigation system and, following his stay in England, he decided to create a new English garden around the castle.
Each generation that followed Montesquieu added artwork and beautiful decorations. Nevertheless, there was a constant determination to keep the reminders of Montesquieu intact. The last owner of the castle, Countess of Chabannes (the great-granddaughter of Montesquieu) died in 2004 leaving the estate to a foundation named after her.
The castle has since become a place of cultural interest and a tourist attraction.
La Brède Castle today
Visitors can admire Montesquieu’s library (though the books have been transferred to the library in Bordeaux) and his bedroom, both preserved as they were in the 18th century.
The castle is open to visitors from Easter to 11 November. It is classed by the French Ministry of Culture as a monument historique.
Getting to La Brède Castle
The castle is easily accessibly by public transport. To travel by tram, take line B which connects Bordeaux to Talence. From there, take the bus line n ° 502 – stop Avenue Capdevielle to la Brède. The nearest train station is Bordeaux Saint Jean. The castle is a 30 minute drive from Bourdeaux airport.