About Montfort Castle
The 12th century Château de Montfort is a castle in the French commune of Vitrac in the Dordogne département, part of the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Montfort Castle history
The castle clings to a promontory overlooking the Cingle de Montfort (Montfort Meander) on the Dordogne River. Its grandiose setting ‘aroused the envy of those who wished to rule Périgord’ so that its history is a long series of battles and sieges.
It was taken and razed to the ground by Simon de Montfort in 1214. The castle was later rebuilt, but again destroyed another three times: during the Hundred Years’ War, under Louis XI of France and on the instructions of Henri IV of France.
The castle was passed down until it was sold In 1501 to Jean-Antoine Lascaris II, Count of Tenda and Ventimiglia, to be given as a dowry for the marriage of his daughter Anne Lascaris to René of Savoy.
It would be René who would rebuild the castle and transform it into a grand hunting lodge, and the property we see today. He hired architects and sculptors from Genoa who added a Renaissance facade, a ‘Hall of Honour’ with timbered ceilings, and a fireplace bearing the arms of Great Bastard of Savoy (being the illegitimate son of the Duke of Savoy). In 1520, it officially became “Relais de Chasse du Territoire de Gaudelet” and remained unchanged until the 19th century.
In 1882, it was purchased by a prosperous merchant from Venice, Mr. Marcelin Mouton who fell in love with the castle. His articles on the castle and the region of Montfort were published in the Annals of Arts and Letters of the Alpes-Maritimes,
In 1906, Lietta Thomas, Maitre d’Hotel in Nice purchased the estate and his son would eventually register the Castle to Historical monuments.
Over the course of its illustrious history, the property has hosted French nobility and bourgeoisie, Pope Paul III, and the King of France (there’s an elaborate mural in the spiral staircase depicting his visit, now registered in the directory of Historical Monuments).
Montfort Castle today
Renovation work was carried out in the 19th century and gives the castle a ‘whimsical look of a stage setting for light opera.’ The castle of Montfort can not be visited, but its silhouette can mark a hike or a step in this authentic village which borders the Dordogne.
Getting to Montfort Castle
Most visitors choose to drive to sites in the area