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Château de Val: a unique French wonder on the water




The Castle of Val (Château de Val), located in the commune of Lanaubre in the department of Cantal, is one of the best preserved and one of the most remarkable castles of the Haute-Auvergne. This imposing fortress is surrounded by six towers, whose different roofs give the building an original appearance. The 15th-century Gothic chapel in the main courtyard is dedicated to Saint Blaise. A wrought iron door, decorated with the coat of arms of the d’Estaing family, leads into the castle. The upper floors are accessed via a spiral staircase from the lobby, which was originally an open courtyard.

Château de Val
Château de Val. Photo: colling-architektur, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Castle of Val was founded at the beginning of the 13th century by a young member of the Thynières family. He moved here from his ancestral castle Thynières, which is located on the opposite hill. At that time Val was called Enval. A new outpost was erected on the site of a 10th-century fortress, which had been in the possession of his family since 1150.

View of the Château de Val from the water
View of the castle from the water. Photo: Robert-paul, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In the first half of the 15th century, the Castle of Val was acquired by Guillaume IV d’Estaing, who was chamberlain of Charles VII. In 1450 he rebuilt the building and gave it its current appearance. As time went on, the castle began to slowly decline, but remained in the d’Estaing family until 1660, when it was sold by a descendant who lived at the royal court in Versailles and needed money.

Château de Val
Château de Val. Photo: Fab5669, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The fabulous Castle of Val, located in the middle of a picturesque reservoir, was founded at the beginning of the 13th century. Its distinguishing feature is its six towers, each with a different appearance

View of the Château de Val from the water
View of the castle from the water. Photo: Robert-paul, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Between 1660 and 1685, various owners restored the dilapidated fortress. However, at the beginning of the 18th century, the Castle of Val became uninhabitable, after which it was finally abandoned and destroyed. The ruins were acquired by the merchant Ignace Dubois de Saint-Étienne in 1779. He completely restored the castle and made it his home, but in 1793, during the French Revolution, the complex was confiscated and looted. However, Saint-Étienne’s son purchased it in 1805.

View of the Château de Val from the water
View of the castle from the water. Photo: flamouroux from Cologne, Germany, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In 1814, the Castle of Val was acquired by the merchant Andre Longueville, who simply wanted to make money by cutting down the castle park and selling timber. In addition, he planned to demolish the castle in order to sell the stones, but the local authorities expelled the adventurous businessman by court order in 1837.

Interior of the Château de Val
Interior of the castle. Photo: Fab5669, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The new owner started to restore the ancient building. In 1865, it was bought by Jules Suchard, the French consul in Boston, USA. He completed the restoration started by the previous owner. In 1896, the Castle of Val was inherited by the d’Arcy family.

Aubusson wall rug in the salon of the Château de Val
Aubusson wall rug in the salon. Photo: Pymouss, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In 1942, the construction of a dam on the Dordogne River was started. The Castle of Val, located on a hill on the east side of the river valley, was supposed to be hidden under the waters of the new reservoir

Saint-Blaise chapel
Saint-Blaise chapel. Photo: Pymouss, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The d’Arcy family moved out of the castle, taking all the furniture and valuables, in 1946. Plans for the reservoir changed and the ancient building was not flooded. Nevertheless, the complex was left unattended and was looted in 1949. It was soon abandoned and vandalized until 1951, when the local commune of Bort-les-Orgues secured it.

Roofs of the Château de Val
Roofs of the castle. Photo: Père Igor, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The city council of Bort-les-Orgues bought the castle in 1953. It has been restored and turned into a tourist attraction. Now the Castle of Val is located on a small peninsula in the waters of the reservoir of Bort-les-Orgues, and its once luxurious park has disappeared under the waves forever.

Western facade of the Château de Val
Western facade of the castle. Photo: Fab5669, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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