The castle was build on the Sanseau Hill, which peaks at almost 200m.
Since a thousand years, four succesive castles were built up on this hill. Today the archaeology allows us to rediscover the castle's story...
In the 10th century...
The very first castle was constructed in 959. It was a motte-and-bailey castle. The Lords of Villebois, allied with the Taillefer Counts, built a wooden tower.
12th and 13th century
In the late 12th century and the early 13th century, the castle goes from family to family. It evolved and is now made of stone, encircled with ramparts and seven watchtowers. The stately
dwelling is composed by a multi-storey building, surrounded by circular buttresses. Within the castle's enclosure, a romanesque church ensured the spiritual defense.
The late Middle Ages
In the late Middle Ages, the Lords of Mareuil build another stately dwelling. The defensive system is rebuilt, reinforced thanks to new towers and two drawbridges.
In 1597, Jean-Louis Nogaret de La Valette, duke of Épernon, buys the castle. He is its last assailant during the religious wars. In 1622 Villebois' region is set up as a duchy-peerage, and takes its beneficiary's name : La Valette.
Philippe de Montault de Bénac, duke of Navailles and castle's new owner, builds the fourth and last castle in 1667. This new classical castle becomes a secondary residence, embellished by a park.
This edifice forms one of the rarest examples of classical architecture in Charente. The Navailles also enhance the village with a magnificient market place and a convent.
Closer to our time...
After the French Revolution (1789), the castle has multiple roles : schools, gendarmerie (police station), prison...
In 1822 the 17th century residence is partially devastated by a fire.
In the early 20th century, the castle is bought by Maurice De Fleury. His grandsons Philippe and Bernard are dedicated to make the castle look noble again, helped by the association Les Amis du Château. Bernard de Fleury is famous in France under the name of Bernard Lavalette.
In 2000 M. Norbert Fradin buys the castle. The castle's new owner is fascinated by its story, he restores it while allowing archaeological researches.
In 2006, a 12th century room was discovered, which proves that the castle is still hiding some secrets...
Today, the castle of Villebois-Lavalette is entirely listed as a Monument Historique.
Don't hesitate to come and visit the castle with a Tourist Office guide, or a Via Patrimoine guide : more information in the section "how to visit".
A complete booklet on the castle's story (in French) is available at the Tourist Office and at the castle. Price : 8€
Collection Patrimoine de l'Angoumois - 2011
Co-edition Via Patrimoine / OTPHT Antenne d'Horte et Lavalette