So, les grandes vacances – the summer holidays – are here. And grandes is the word. Rors broke up on 4th July and he goes back to school on 3rd September! Two full months of no school. Pas mal. For us, the school holidays coincide with our busiest season since we’re in the hospitality trade, but we fit in as much fun family time as we can around business.

On Monday we set off for a half-day outing to Chateau Villemonteix, near Chenerailles (home to the famous horse fairs in May and October). Caiti reported having enjoyed a visit with school when she was at College so Chris, Rors and I decided it was time to see it for ourselves.

And here it is.

villemonteix chat wideMost of the castle dates from the fifteenth century. The smaller tower to the right is thirteenth century.

villemonteix chat 13thcent towerYou can just make out how tall the original castle walls were from the remnant on the left hand side.

Our visit started off well. The French do love their guided tours whereas I’m someone who prefers to poke around somewhere at my one speed – which is usually a lot quicker than the guides go. The trouble with guided tours is that you find yourself standing in one spot for a leg-achingly long time. And however enthusiastically you listen to start with, tuning in to the French, unless you’re bilingual you miss some of what’s said and your attention starts to drift. I caught various interesting snippets which I asked Rors about in a whisper but he assured me he hadn’t been listening properly either. (But when we got back home I heard him recounting the visit in fine detail to his older brother!!)

villemonteix gargoyle

I don’t know who built the castle but it now belongs to a M. Pierre Lajoix. He bought the castle from someone who used to rent it out to a farmer who stored his hay an straw in it! And that’s not the most unusual thing about the castle. At one point it changed ownership because the owner at the time gambled it away. How could he have risked losing this jolly boar’s head trophy!


I caught bits about this eighteenth century wheelchair. It’s based on Moliere’s famous one.

villemonteix chat wheelchair

Being relatively close to Aubusson, famous for its tapestry making, it of course sported some Aubusson tapestries on the walls.

villemonteix tapestry

There was lots of lovely antique furniture, paintings and bibelots dotted around so there’s plenty to see there. We didn’t stay for the whole tour as it took an hour to get to the first floor and there were four floors to visit! Shame, as I bet the view from the tour is super. However, we’ve now visited and it got us out of the house and away from my annoying wandering turkeys for a few hours. More about them in another blog.

There’s surprisingly little about Villemonteix on the internet but I’ll have to do some investigating to find out more about it. It’s very picturesque and in a pleasant setting. It’s well worth a visit if you’re into local history.

villemonteix ivy tower