About Morlanne Castle
Morlanne Castle (the Château de Morlanne) is a powerful 14th century restored castle in the commune of Morlanne in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département in southwest France. This imposing brick fortress, forming a polygonal enceinte has gateways, a courtyard, moats and a high keep. Inside is a manor house dating from the end of the 16th century.
History of Morlanne Castle
The castle, standing on a motte at the southern end of the village, was built in 1373 by Gaston III de Foix-Béarn (known as “Gaston Fébus”) and architect Sicard de Lordat in order to supervise English Gascony. It is a heptagonal building with unequal angles and sides (built on the same site as an earlier building), and is viewed as one of the finest examples of Fébusian construction on the borders of the Landes and Béarn.
In the second half of the 15th century, Odet d’ Aydie (right-hand man of Charles VII and later of Louis XI), become lord of Morlanne and transformed the austere castle with more chimneys and windows. Further alterations between the 16th-19th centuries transformed the building into a comfortable residence.
In 1866, the castle became the property of Albert de Domec, a member of one of the oldest families in Morlanne which had owned the lay abbey for centuries. Various families owned the castle until World War Two when it became an uninhabited ruin.
In 1969, historian Raymond Ritter acquired the castle and decided to restore the building as a medieval fortress, restoring the defences of the surrounding wall, filling in windows added in the 18th and 19th centuries, and rebuilding the upper half of the keep and some of the buildings that had disappeared from the south-west of the courtyard. In 1975, Ritter left the castle and its collection of works of art and furniture to the département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
In 1975, the Château de Morlanne was listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Morlanne Castle today
Visitors can take a free or guided tour of the castle. Aside from the interesting design of the building itself and its surrounding parks, visitors can view furniture collections (including a bedroom from the time of the Consulate and Empire with two mahogany beds, and a Louis XVI room hung with silks and gold buttons).
There is also a library, a Louis XVI bedroom and a large gallery of paintings. Among the most prominant on display are a view of Venice by Canaletto, a painting of the face of an old man by Fragonard, The Reader by Colson, The Happy Family by Lépicié and Visit to the Wet Nurse by Boilly. Other artists represented include Pannini, Snyders, Roslin and the expressionist René Morère.
Getting to Morlanne Castle
Morlanne Castle is situated in Morlanne in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques department and Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.
The nearest large town is Pau – approximately 21 miles away, and worth a visit in its own right. Although combinations of buses and trains are available from here, it’s easiest to travel by car, around a 36 minute drive via the D945. The castle is a 2 hour drive south from Bordeaux (123 miles) via the A65, and from Toulouse it is a 2 hr 15 min drive west (136 miles) via the A64.