The château des Seigneurs de Rennes.
It was this chateau that gave the village we know today its name. The castle we see today is thought to date back to the 16th century. Probably it was originally a Visigothic fortress, though I have so far been unable to see it, apparently there still exists a vast, remarkably well-preserved room in the north of the castle, and is said to date from this era. (Photo now added below)
In 1210 it was destroyed, like so many others, by Simon de Montfort at the time of the crusades against the Cathars and was rebuilt around 1250 by Pierre de Voisins, a Baron from the North to whom it fell, and who then left descendants in the Rhazes. In 1362 it was destroyed by the Catalan 'Routiers.'
This time it was rebuilt by the d'Hautpoul family in the 16th century. Marie de Negre D'ables Dame d'Hautpoul de Blanchefort, who died on January 17th 1781, was the Royal to dwell in the chateau. It is said her bed, complete with her coat of arms emblazoned on it, still exists in one of the rooms in the chateau.
Today the chateau consists of four main buildings on a central courtyard, and four corner-towers. a circular one 17m high, and three square ones. The twelve stones over the threshold show the twelve apostles. It was sold by auction by Elisabeth de Rennes, daughter of the last marquise, and purchased in 1816 by Julie Avignon, daughter of Elisabeth's farmer who later sold it to the Dalbies brothers.
Around 1946, it was bought by Mr. Marius Fatin, honorary commissaire in the merchant navy, who moved in with his wife, their two daughters, and their son Henri, who currently resides there, and who is a fine sculptor of wood and is often seen around the village gardening and tidying up, usually pushing a wheel barrow.
I would like to thank Mr. Fatin for allowing us inside his Chateau and for showing us around his interesting Museum and for the photographs shown on these pages.
Mr Fatin said that the mayor of the village had tried more than once to buy the Chateau from him but as he did not like the mayor, he used stronger language than this, he would not sell it to him, ever!
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Upstairs Chateau room in good condition with a picture of M. Fatin's Father on the wall and right, an Ariel photograph of Rennes-le-Chateau
Inside the Chateau.
I was keen to get inside the Chateau as I was told by one of the villagers that Mr. Fatin had a lot of artefacts in a museum he had set up in one of the upstairs rooms, Ii wanted to see if he had found anything similar to the artifacts I had discovered. As luck would have it we saw Fatin in his garden and he agreed to show us his museum. The first room we entered was the kitchen which was very dark after the bright sunshine outside. Leaving the kitchen we entered a hallway. To my left some steps led up but to my right were the fabled double arches.
In the left photo can be seen the two arches. These arches have been linked by some to the 'Knights Stone' discovered by Sauniere in his church during renovations of the altar. The photo on the right is the first stairs we came to from the two arches hallway. (taken from the top looking back the way we had come) In both photos you can see the clutter and cobwebs, which was also in every room we saw. One of the openings leading off to the left right by the two arches probably lead to a staircase to a lower level, maybe to the dungeons or the secret passages that are said to exist under the castle.
The 'Knights Stone' with the two arches.
Notice how worn the stairs have become over the hundreds of years of use. You can just smell the age when you are inside the chateau, literally.
M Fatin showing off one of his fossils
Mr Fatin has put a lot of work into presenting his collection of fossils and artefacts, though some of the fossils seem nothing more than lumps of rock to me, I am no expert and will give him credit for his efforts. Though he comes across as a strange person at first he seemed an okay bloke to me. He even gave me a pot of fossils. It is a shame the Museum is now closed to visitors as I am sure Mr. Fatin would make a lot of money if he opened it again and included a tour of his chateau in the price.
Two casts taken from the Bas relief placed on Sauniere's grave.
While we were here we tried to persuade Mr. Fatin to show us around his chateau, unfortunately he wasn't interested. I wanted to see if the rumoured secret dungeons and the blocked-up underground passages, which once led off in several directions to join natural rifts in the rock, actually existed, maybe next time he will be more favourable.