If you want first-hand experience of how French bourgeois lived several centuries ago, you should definitely visit Château de Flaugergues (“The House of the Fields”). The castle is a folly (pleasure house), located near the town of Montepellier. It was purchased by Etienne de Flaugergues, an advisor at a Montepellier court, in 1696. De Flaugergues spent the next 45 yours extending, renovating and embellishing the house. Interestingly enough the descendants of the original family – Henri and Brigitte de Colbert – still live here.
The Château de Flaugergues’ architecture and décor are impressive. The house has three levels, and its main façade has seven bays of windows. At the centre, there is a Doric-inspired entrance. When you enter the château, you cannot help but notice a huge extravagant staircase, which occupies one third of the entire building.
Wherever you look, you are met with unique pieces of history. The 17th century Flemish tapestries depict five events in the life of Moses, and they were woven by masters of the Phillipe Wauters’ workshops. Because of their outstanding value and historical importance, they were declared historic monuments in 1992.
The furniture at the Château de Flaugergues dates back from the time of Louis XV and Louis XVI. Most of the furniture was stolen (and some even destroyed) during the French Revolution, but some pieces have been returned to the Flaugergues family. You can also see a wonderfully strange optical device called zograscope, which dates back to the era of Louis XV, and which was used for looking at stereoscopic images.
The Château’s gardens are masterpieces. The French Garden was originally created by Etienne de Flaugergues in 1700, while the orangery and the English Park were laid by Charles Joseph de Boussairolles 150 years later. The vineyard is over 2,000 years old and goes back to the Roman times. The De Colbert Family has 160,000 bottles of their own wine, both of the red and white grape variety (grenache noir, syrah, mourvèdre, cabernet sauvignon, roussanne, and rolle et viognier, to mention a few).
It is worth mentioning that the De Colbert family has been awarded several times for their hospitality and mastery of catering which is yet another reason why Château de Flaugergues should be your must-see place.
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