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The Folies Languedociennes

Folies Languedociennes designates the large number of châteaux that border our vineyards. They are a testament to the heyday of regional wine production at the end of the 19th century. It’s a reputation that a number of wine growers hope to highlight and share by opening up their estates to the public and offering opportunities to taste (and purchase) their wines.

Some background:

Following a few periods of turbulence such as the French Revolution of 1789 then the War of the Pyrenees of 1793, the Roussillon vineyards continued to thrive. However, the price of grain put a stop to this.

The wine-growing boom didn’t happen until the second half of the 20th century, after the arrival of the railway, as wine was previously exported from Port Vendres to England and elsewhere via the sea (“histoire de la vigne et du vin”– Pierre Torres).

It was at this point that a number of impressive chateaux sprung up around Béziers, the capital of wine in Languedoc.

As visible evidence of the region’s prosperity at a specific period in time, they demonstrated their owners’ ability to manage their land effectively. The owners came from old noble lineage and the bourgeoisie who in the 18th century had gained access to the offices and property, as well as active members of contemporary society. Then this century descended upon us, bringing with it slumps, social upheavals and financial difficulties right from the start.

They were built for the enjoyment of their owners by leading, highly-skilled architects (followers of Viollet-le-Duc) and craftsmen. Based on ancient Roman villas, they are a magnificent display of a whole host of famous styles that were adopted and adapted to the 19th century. The buildings are surrounded by large shaded parks dotted with water features and fountains, aviaries, impressive greenhouses and winter gardens. Inside, there was a new focus on in comfort and a clear preference – inherited from the 2nd empire – for stained glass, inlay furniture, woodwork and beautiful parquet flooring made from the finest wood.

 

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