On a recent trip to Rennes-le-Chateau I visited Montazels, a small village overlooking Espéraza, as I wanted to explore the church and also to try and find the location of Alfred Sauniere's grave. Although there are many Sauniere's buried in the graveyard I knew none of the graves would bare Alfred's name as he was buried in unconsecrated ground in a field outside the village. The reason for this seems to have been because Alfred brought shame on his family, we know he became an alcoholic in later life and was very abusive to other villagers, even pissing on some of them from the balcony of the Sauniere home when they came to find out what he was shouting about. There is a rumor that he had one or more illicit affairs and may have fathered a child or two. We asked a couple of villagers that were about if they knew where Alfred's grave was located but they did not know and seemed reluctant to talk about it. We had little choice but to search the overgrown edges of the fields around the village but we were unsuccessful in finding it, but perhaps next time we will.
While we were in the village we decided to explore the old Cazemajou Chateau and as you will see from the included photographs it is no longer habitable. If a lot of money was spent on refurbishment the chateau would make a good hotel. Some of the windows have views towards Rennes-le-Chateau or down the valley towards Cardou.
Bérenger Saunière was born in Montazels and as his father,Joseph (1823 to 1906) was at one time the steward of the Marquis de Cazermajou's castle, we can assume that the chateau was familiar to Sauniere and a sure bet that he had been inside on more than one occasion. The Sauniere household is situated just along the street by the fountain.
Château de Cazemajou in Montazels
As you can see from the above photograph some parts of the Chateau are older than others, having been added to and enlarged over the many years since its original construction. It is a huge imposing building covering four main floors. The large main entrance seen in the photo leads into a hallway with a large marble staircase. Because of the derelict and unsafe condition of some parts of the building we were unable to climb up to the top of the old crenel topped tower.
Entrance Gate to the Chateau Courtyard Garden and View from the Car Park of the Chateau side entrance door
Interior view of the Entrance Gate and a Ruined Building in the Garden
Corner view where the old seems to meet the new and the Tall Tower
Hallway and Stairs
The stairs seen here are not the main staircase but a smaller set probably used by the servants
Old Tin Safe Box (empty) and a Black Marble Fireplace
Looks like Lawrence Lleweyln‐Bowen has been here and a room with a window facing Rennes-le-Chateau and a tiny wall cupboard
View towards Rennes-le-Chateau and the tiny wall cupboard interior
Old Arched Tower Window and a White Marble Fireplace
Another Arched Tower Window and a cluttered hallway leading to the Grand Staircase on the right
The Grand Marble Staircase and a collapsed part of the chateau reveals the room opposite
More ruined floors and in a cluttered room an Armchair that would be a Devil to repair
I think these top rooms must have been where the servants lived as they are small and plain
Some Old Chests (empty) and the Attic - just look at those old roof beams
An Old Metal Safe (alas empty) and the old Flagstone Floor - You can just smell the history
An old Stone Fireplace and a modern Oven and what looked like parts of an old board or card marking game
And last but not least we found the Wine Cellar
Unfortunately there were no bottles of Vintage Wine and most of the bottles were empty. Those that still had some fluid in did not smell too good. Amongst this collection of mostly modern bottles there were 1 or 2 older ones that may date back to the time of Sauniere, and if so it goes to show if you look hard enough 100 year old French bottles can be obtained sutible for hiding messages in the landscape.
Well that is the end of my tour around Château de Cazemajou in Montazels and I hope you found it as interesting as I did exploring it.
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