Every Château Tells a Story #14: Le Château des Bordes, Lot


Le Château des Bordes
Le Château des Bordes

When I started this series about the châteaux in our area, I had no idea that so many of them exist. There are the obvious ones – Najac, Saint-Projet, Belcastel – but also less obvious ones. Some are just ruined shells, others are restored and inhabited. Many are more like fortified houses than the traditional image of a castle with moats and battlements. The Château des Bordes at Promilhanes, just over the border in the Lot Département, is one of the former.

Un embarras de châteaux

Promilhanes boasts no less than three châteaux, apparently. We saw one other, now an equestrian centre, on our way to Bordes. The latter is not often open to the public, but the owners were taking part in the Journées du Patrimoine last weekend and did guided tours.

Front elevation
Front elevation

Le Château des Bordes is not easy to find. There were no signs, so I was glad I had taken the very detailed blue IGN map of the area. A number of cars were already in the temporary car park when we arrived. A friendly but rather harassed lady ushered us into the château grounds and explained that she would show us the exterior. Her husband would then give a tour of the interior.

“Have you had a lot of people this weekend?” I asked.

“Oh yes, far more than we ever expected!”

The owners, M. and Mme. Millet, bought the house in 1969, when it was partially in ruins and uninhabited for 30 years. They restored it to its present state. It’s rather austere and unornamented, but that’s how it would have been in its heyday and the Millets wanted to recreate that. Good decision, in my view.

Powerful family

Rear elevation showing the colonnaded terrace
Rear elevation showing the colonnaded terrace

The original château was built in the 13th century. The powerful Gourdon family already owned land at Promilhanes in the 11th century and the château was one of their fiefs. Mme. Millet pointed out that the château was not built as a fortified house but rather as an agricultural property, the aim being to impress the locals into paying their taxes. The Gourdons owned around 50 such houses at the time.  

The château was built on a small knoll and the land was cultivated on terraces below. A natural well made it the ideal place to build. ‘Bordes’ is a Celtic word meaning planks of wood, possibly a reference to how the original château was built.

Vast fireplace in the dining room
Vast fireplace in the dining room. On the left, you get a glimpse into the kitchen, in the base of the round tower

The house was remodelled between the 15th and 17th centuries, when vast fireplaces and large windows were installed and a colonnaded terrace constructed. At one point the English occupied it during the Hundred Years War, but they were eventually driven out.


The square tower, completely restored by the Millets
The square tower, completely restored by the Millets

The Gourdons still owned the place at the time of the French Revolution, but it was sold as a bien national in 1793 and occupied by several families. They built internal partitions, tore up the stone flooring slabs and no doubt sold them and blocked up some of the windows to avoid paying the window tax.

Just before World War I, the round tower was dynamited and the spiral staircase and sculpted entrance doorway removed and sold. The place became a sort of quarry from which people took stone for other buildings – a little like the château at Najac.

It must have been a labour of love for the present owners to restore it from that sorry state. A job well done.

Ivy leaf motif beneath a window
Ivy leaf motif beneath a window

You might also like:

A House with a Difference
My series about local châteaux 

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  1. What a brilliant idea the journees patrimoine is! Chateau des bordes is one to look out for next year. Thank you for sharing what sounds like a quirky visit. My own to chateau du montal was a joy. The refurbishment has been sensitively done, more rooms are open plus the garden and you can still wander at will rather than having to join a guided tour. Plus i read that it is free to visit every first sunday of the month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The journées du patrimoine are always a good opportunity to find new places to see. Sometimes, it’s worth going to the tried and tested ones as well. A few years ago we took the Tourist Office guided tour of Najac and learned a whole lot more about the place, even though we had already been there countless times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • How I shall look forward to that …. I’m itching to be back though making the most of Fall in New England which can hardly said to be hard labour!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m sure you can’t wait to get back to Cantal. The trees were just turning, although not as much as in previous years at the same time. I imagine the New England Fall is even more spectacular!

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s very pretty here and we are off to Vermont on Wednesday which is further north and supposed to be spectacular. We’ll be at the start of the leaf peeping because it is frankly unaffordable to find a place to stay after this weekend … They flock in from all over the world apparently. For me, I can’t wait to sate myself with covered bridges which are a quiet fascination of mine. But all things considered – Cantal still has my heart!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. We went to the fete des vendages at Bruniquel this year. Always worth attending and i was fascinated by the vieo showing the discovery of the neolithic circles deep in a cave at Bruniquel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve often wanted to go the the Bruniquel event, but we are normally doing something else. There’s so much going on that one can’t do everything, sadly. I’m also very interested in the fairly recent finding of those Neolithic circles. I’ve read about them.


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