It is believed that Château de la Durantie dates back as far as the 13th century. The first official information was that La Durantie came under the ownership of a large landholding by the Comte de Toulouse, during the 13th century. At that time the domaine was part of a farming and wine producing area and there is a record of 600 casks of wine being sent to England via the fast flowing River Tarn. It would therefore seem that visits by the English started as early as the 13th century.
The central chateau and farm buildings are 17th century built of pale limestone with two circular towers housing the spiral staircases. A key architectural influence occurred in 1887 when the then Parisian owners – two spinster ladies visited the Italian Riviera and subsequently renovated the château to reflect the Italian Palazzos of the ‘belle époque’; adding tall windows with beautiful facings and exterior pink paintwork. This example of more sophisticated French châteaux architecture was typical for the turn of the century.
The château has seen several owners but significantly, the Schwarzkopf family, famed for perfumes and beauty products, bought the château in the eighties and hosted wild parties but sold off some of the farming estate. During the war the building was occupied by nuns and their peaceful influence can still be sensed when entering the château gates today.
The Tarn department was created during the French Revolution of 4th May 1790, and is steeped in history. La Durantie has gained a rare permit to build within this listed area – the neighbouring villages of Castelnau-de-Montmiral and Puycelsi are both categorised under the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’.
The farm now consists of 35 acres which will be used for the new chateau houses (7 acres) and a wonderful park and gardens for the remainder.
This winter vines are being reintroduced to the 15 hectare château estate, returning more of its heritage, and owners of the local French vernacular homes will be able to make the idyllic notion of drinking their own Gaillac wine whilst sitting on the terrace of their holiday home a reality.