Château de Fontaine-Henry

Fontaine-Henry, France

Château de Fontaine-Henry was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries on the foundations of an earlier fortress built by Guillaume de Tilly, sieur de Fontaine-Henry, named in honour of his cousin Henry II of England. The château is still lived in by the descendents of its early owners. The chapel dates from 13th and 16th centuries. The castle's distinctive feature is its extremely high and steep roofing, together with its richly sculpted facade. The ground floor reception rooms are home to a collection of fine period furniture and paintings.



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User Reviews

Danijel Bacelic (7 months ago)
3 stars as there were no proper translation for guided tour. Otherwise castle is spectacular and worth the visit
Ian Wright (8 months ago)
When you think Château opulence and splendour come to mind.. Not here though.. The tour was long and frankly a waste of time if you're not fluent in French.. The gardens are lacklustre and quite untended.. I'd say skip it for something else.
Bubble Vif (8 months ago)
Beautiful castle has been handed through the same family more than 800 years. The architecture combines 13 to 16 centuries elements with such elegance. The castle visit is done by guided tour. Our guide is a young lady, sorry not be able to recall her name, her explanation was rich, passionate with a lot of humour. We were deeply touched by the relationship between this noble family and the villagers.
Patrick Abela (9 months ago)
Beautiful secluded castle with centuries of interesting history, mythology and art. Special thanks to our guide who also went out of her way to book us a taxi to Caen after the tour.
Andrei Iacob (11 months ago)
What a terrible visit on a Sunday afternoon. You can only visit the outside of the castle ( the chapel, the maze and the peacocks) unless you want a guided tour which is only available in french.. but wait there’s a catch, for the guided tour you have to wait another 45 minutes.. how convenient. Probably the ladies preferred to continue their gossip session as we were the only visitors. In addition if you have a discount card, it can only be applied for the guided tours. 1 star for the fake politeness
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Château de Foix

The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.

In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.

The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.

From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.

As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).

Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.

Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.