The first house we bought in France was in Preignac, on the left bank of the
Garonne. In fact the house was on the banks of the Garonne and actually in times of exceptionally high water (that’s another story, and a damp one, for later). The children used to go to school at Cadillac ten minutes drive away and on the way we’d see a ruined fairytale castle high up on the hillside opposite. We’d have loved to explore it but there didn’t seem to be any obvious way to get to it so it remained a tantalising mystery.
Fast forward 16 years and my middle daughter is looking for six months work experience to validate her degree in Tourism and The Development of Tourist Sites. Given that she has an absolute passion for castles and restoration it probably wasn’t that surprising she ended up working for the association engaged in restoring the fairytale castle, in fact called the vieux Chateau du Cros. The new one is directly below it and is some 500 years younger.
Needless to say we demanded a visit almost immediately, and it really is a wonderful place to go around. Sadly there isn’t a lot of the original castle left, the war saw to that, but the location would be hard to beat. Vineyards to the back, woods to the side and a view of the Sauternais and the forest of Les Landes to the front.
One of my daughter’s first jobs was to organise a medieval market in an oak wood clearing nest to the château as a way of publicising to the locals that the château, which had been closed to the public for years for safety reasons, could now be visited. Despite it being 40 degrees (making wearing medieval costumes a real joy) the market was a roaring success with lots of people coming specifically to see the château and telling my daughter about how they, too, had wondered for years what it was really like.
My daughter was asked to stay on and head up the restoration project which is a job she adores, even if sometimes she is less than adoring about dealing with the bureaucracy that surrounds any project to do with historical monuments.