Brousse le Château
A picturesque village nestling on the bank of the river Tarn, awarded the pretigious title of one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" —one of the most beautiful villages in France— has an incredibly well-preserved castle.
One of the relics of medieval architecture in Rouergue —ancient name of Aveyron— the castle belonged for 500 years to the same family the Arpajons, one of the most famous families of the Haut-Languedoc region as well as loyal servants of the then French monarchy.
Louis d'Arpajon is certainly the most known as he pursued a brilliant military career, so that Louis XIV made him duke and a lord.
To reach the castle one has to cross the bridge built in 1366 spanning the river Alrance to climb the still cobbled old alleys. The castle was already existing around the 9th century, but got rebuilt in the 11th century, as testified by the square romanesque tower by the entrance.
The castle as we know it nowadays —an irregular polygon enclosing a huge courtyard of 150 m by 50 m— was originally designed during the One Hundred Years War. The One Hundred Years War spanned from 1337 to 1453, and was a war between the kingdom of France and the kingdom of England. New towers were then added as well as holes for archers.
The Arpajons used it as a second home by the end of the 16th century.
The castle was then sold to the local council in 1839 and, used as a prebytery for over a century. Restored by a group of volunteers, it is now managed by Brousse le Château local authority.
Brousse le Château is truly a special place, so rich in past events.
For example, in 1344, Princess Hélène de Castelnau spent some time here. She was of noble descent, as her grandfather was Olivier de Penne - a Simon de Montfort fierce opponent during the crusade against the Albigensians.
Jean d’Arpajon, who was in love with her, abducted her, forcing her to live with him in the castle, eventually marrying her. Meanwhile, her family took the matter before Philippe VI, King of France. At this point in time, France was at war —Hundred Years War—, and Edward III was the King of England.
In 1347, Géraud de la Barthe, the King's captain, laid siege to the castle. Initially unsuccessful, he faked leaving, hiding in the woods surrounding the castle. At night, when castle soldiers had lessened their guard, Géraud climbed the castle walls, and managed to free up Hélène, eventually bringing her back to her family.
Historians tend to think the castle got burned shortly after, as later on Jean d’Arpajon complained about it before the government.
Thank you, Patrick McCloskey for providing the numerous raw photos you shot—including these ones—during our 2012 pilot tour.