The Château’s first stones were laid during the course of the Hundred Years’ War, but the chateau has been in existence, in its current fortified form, since the start of the 15th century. It was raised by the heralded De Carle family, members of which were highly prominent in Bordeaux between the 15th and 17th centuries. These included, amongst numerous others Canon Vital Carles, who founded the Hospital of Bordeaux, Jean de Carles who presided around 1520 over the Parliament of Bordeaux during the reign of the illustrious King François 1st, and François de Carles, Mayor of Bordeaux in 1561.
It is from this period that date the two round East and West towers, a few years younger than the massive South square tower, the former machicolations of which now provide the foundation to the wall-walk. The splendid sculptured main door is also a remnant of the Renaissance.
From the very start, the Château and the Carles Family were celebrated by renowned poets, such as Ronsard
« Carles de qui l’esprit recherche l’univers » [Carle, whose mind seeks out the universe]
« Pour gage d’amitié , je te donne ces vers » [In token of my friendship, I give you this verse]
« Afin que ton Bordeaux et ta large Garonne » [So that your Bordeaux and wide Garonne]
« Flottant contre ses bords, ta louange résonne » [Lapping against its banks, with praise overrun]
« Et ton nom par la France autant puisse voler...» [And set your name in equal flight over France]
or Pontus de Tyard
« Voyez Carle » [Behold Carle]
« Qui dort en l’heureux séjour du mont au double coupeau… » [He who sleeps content in the double fold of the mountain]
In the 17th century, Château de Carles became a beacon for thinkers and literary figures, as La Boëtie, who wedded Marguerite de Carles, and friend Montaigne wove family ties there, beyond the warm friendship that bound them.
The fair and illustrious Marquise de Boufflers, whose friends included Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Beaumarchais and Diderot, would become the last “Seigneur de Carles” in the late 18th century. In those days, the château sprawled far more widely than it does today, with a seigniorial chapel, ice house and many commons. It was sold as property of the nation during the Revolution, following which many of its buildings were demolished, leaving only the current volumes standing. Such a wealth of cultural heritage could not go unprotected and Château de Carles was registered on the Supplementary Register of Historical Monuments.
At the turn of the 19th century, Guillaume Chastenet de Castaing, Member of Parliament and Senator of Gironde for 30 years or so, bought the estate. An aficionado of Fronsac wines, he acquired the property more for its vineyards than for the château, which had fallen into abandon. He would restore the interior, refurbish the terrace and plant the cypress trees that now adorn the land and so clearly mirror the landscapes of Tuscany…
Between the two World Wars, his son Jacques Chastenet de Castaing, a historian and member of the Académie Française, would speed up the property’s restoration, taking pleasure in inhabiting it and hosting many a neighbour, friend and brother-in-arms there, including fellow “Immortals” of the Académie Française such as François Mauriac and Maurice Druon.
He would go on to leave Carles to his own eldest son, Antoine Chastenet de Castaing, who from as early as 1983, handed the reins to daughter Constance and her husband Stéphane Droulers.
Passionate and determined, Constance and Stéphane Droulers have brought back to life the property’s majesty and lustre of yesteryear and now produce there one of the finest Bordeaux wines, looking ahead to the day when they will be able to pass it on, in turn, to their daughters Eléonore and Oriane.