The history of the first renaissance castle in Provence

What to do in the Luberon? Do you want to combine heritage, discovery for children and travel through time? Go to the Château de Lourmarin in Provence.

Part Two: The New Castle

Have you already read our last article on the birth of the Château de Lourmarin? If so, the Château-Vieux no longer holds any secrets for you. Then read on to discover the advent of the Château-Neuf! A Renaissance wing that made this building unique and made it the first Renaissance castle in Provence...

François I in Lourmarin: the "Renaissance" inspiration

In 1537, returning from Italy in the middle of the Renaissance period, King François I stopped off at the Château de Lourmarin... After his visit, Blanche Lévis-Ventadour, the owner of the property, continued the construction of the Château by adding a new part connected to the Old Château by a large square tower. This was to become the Château-Neuf. This earned the castle the nickname of the first Renaissance castle in Provence. The work ceased around 1560, due to the prevailing insecurity, a consequence of the Wars of Religion.

The Château de Lourmarin over the centuries

Towards the end of the 16th century, the Château belonged to the Lesdiguières family, who also owned the Château de La Tour d'Aigues. Two new owner families followed one another for a long time until 1801, when the Château belonged to several owners who gradually lost interest in it, so that it partially collapsed at the beginning of the 20th century.

Robert Laurent-Vibert: saviour/restorer of the Château de Lourmarin

In 1920, Robert Laurent-Vibert, an industrialist from Lyon, fell in love with the village and its damaged castle... He decided to buy it and restored it with the help of a few friends. A man of letters and an art lover, he wanted to turn it into a Villa Medici in Provence.

He died in a car accident in 1925 and bequeathed the château and its collections to the Académie des Sciences, Agriculture, Arts et Belles-Lettres in Aix. The Academy was responsible for creating a Foundation (1927) where young artists (from 1929), painters, sculptors, musicians and writers would continue to be welcomed during the summer.

Visit the Renaissance wing: the treasures of the Château-Neuf

The castle's imposing volumes are spread over three levels and served by its famous staircase. The kitchen and the concert hall are on the ground floor. The concert hall is the former dining room and, during the Wars of Religion, the Guards' room. Today, the castle organises concerts and conferences here.


Focus on the staircase

"This staircase with its double central spiral is one of the most beautiful spiral staircases in the south of France. It has 93 monolithic steps (a single stone slab for each step). This slab constitutes both the spiral and the step and is embedded in the wall, contributing to the elevation of the tower. A cornice decorated with a sculpted frieze comprising 316 different motifs adorns the staircase. In the corners, as the length of the step is important, it rests on a corner tube decorated with a sculpted motif. This trompe d'oeil minimises the span and weight of the steps in the corners.
- Lourmarin Castle, Laurent-Vibert Lourmarin Foundation

On the first floor, we find the "ladies' room", a reconstruction of an 18th century room with some Provençal elements. Continuing our visit, we find ourselves in the Sallestre or "room to be". This was the large reception room. Its entrance door is the only original one in the whole castle.

Discover the second room of honour known as the "men's room" and the music room; the painted decorations on the ceiling and the fireplace in the art deco style were created in 1932 by the painter Louis Riou. The last room is the Laurent-Vibert room, which is now used for temporary exhibitions, based on the Robert Laurent-Vibert collection.

Before you go down, don't forget to go up to the end of the spiral staircase! We won't tell you any more about it, as your own visit should have a few surprises in store for you!

In addition to the tour of the castle, which you can do on your own or with a guide, there is also a special brochure for children to make the tour fun for them. Numerous cultural events take place throughout the year (concerts, festivals, themed exhibitions, etc.). Stay tuned, we'll keep you regularly informed of the programme. Or visit the Château de Lourmarin website.

Don't miss: the visit of the castle is superb. The view of the village of Lourmarin from the terrace is another must-see. The profile of the village stands on a small hill which offers three bell towers to be seen in the blink of an eye. On this terrace you will also be delighted to discover a pool of water surrounded by rosebushes where the Koi carp enjoy their chatelaine condition!

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L'Histoire du premier château renaissance de Provence
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