To begin with, the work that has now been finished simply set out to make it possible to visit the monument in complete safety.
That goal having been achieved, another took its place… There was a huge temptation to install a roof on walls that had not seen one for over three centuries and to replace the beams long disappeared by new ones to allow the normal use of the building, while addressing all safety concerns.
Supporting floors and ceilings, and weighing up to three tonnes apiece, the new beams made it possible to recreate the original bedrooms, whose proportions give them a medieval atmosphere (remembering that the château was built in 1306…).
It is now possible to use the château for cultural purposes that go hand-in-hand with fine wine – exhibitions, concerts in the courtyard (which will remain open), banquets, symposiums, etc., or simply as a setting in which to describe the monument’s historic background and resurrection thanks to architect Philippe Leblanc, the firm of T.M.H., and advice from the DRAC regional cultural affairs directorate.
The history of Fargues is an essential part of the Aquitaine region’s history.
However, in order to dream about the past, think about the present, and build for the future, there need to be comfortable modern facilities. It seemed unthinkable not to take advantage of this far-reaching renovation work to install underfloor heating to complement heat from fireplaces (which now work and are quite safe). And, since relying on candlelight was out of the question, it was essential to plan electrical wiring for all the buildings.
Furthermore, how can one survive in the 21st century without WiFi – even in a medieval setting?
Although the stone masonry, uncovered under 30 cm of rammed earth and meticulously reconstituted, does not make it easy for elegant ladies to walk in their high heels, no one can fail to be impressed with this unique example of craftsmanship.
Philippe Leblanc suggested reopening the large door leading into the interior or “upper courtyard”. This now has a beautiful portcullis such as one sees in very old fortresses. The doorway will now make it possible for vehicles to go from the upper to the lower courtyard. While this may detract somewhat from the medieval atmosphere, it is definitely useful in moving furniture, food, etc. into this “cardinal’s palace”!
It should be noted that the present state of château, even after all the work that has been done, still only amounts to a third of what the château was before the 1687 fire. This totally destroyed the living quarters, so there is no trace of what they were like, much less any decorations or furniture. A few rooms, especially in the keep, deserve to be restored by the next generation, as they see fit. I very much hope they do. As for my own contribution, I am satisfied with having finished this part of the renovation and saving the chapel – without which no château is complete, both materially and spiritually.
Alexandre de Lur Saluces
Fargues, le 10 Juin 2013