Château de Caumont consists of two buildings on a vast esplanade overlooking the Save river valley. The old castle built on the site of a fortified castle that belonged to Gaston Phoebus. The present Renaissance castle whose construction lasted from 1525 to 1535.
The castle sits on two levels of underground vaults, it is flanked by four strong towers so that openings and slits control the facades. Two octagonal towers are guarding the West side. One can observe four “pepper“ towers pepper which are located in the eastern and northern parts. The structure is alternating bricks and stones bands which allow light to play with much happiness.
U-shaped three wings are surrounding a beautiful courtyard recently restored. On the ground floor, divided windows open onto the courtyard. Upstairs, windows have with less divisions . The beautiful front door opens onto a staircase according to the Florentine fashion adorned with vaulted bays alternating three classical Greek building methods . In the courtyard on the north wing, on the first floor on can find a shuttle race representing a fairly typical outdoor works of Mr Bachelier as found at the Hotel d'Assezat in Toulouse. This shuttle race, where one has a nice view over the park and Cedars trees of Lebanon, can reach the courtyard by a spiral staircase of the sixteenth century.
On the first floor, a Romantic chapel with a beautiful stained glass window designed by Master Marechal, who also signed the windows of the Fourviere Basilica in Lyon. In the north wing, the room where the King Henri III of Navarre, the future Henry IV, stayed. Pierre de Nogaret de La Valette Nogaret built the present castle on his return from Italy wars he made with Francis 1. His grand-son, Jean-Louis de Nogaret de La Valette Nogaret was born there in 1554 and became Duke of Epernon thanks to Henry III he served before Henri IV and Louis XIII. Then he endured a less favorable period as Richelieu, who feared him much, sequestered all his possessions - including the Cadillac castle - and had him locked in Loches dungeons, where he died at the age of 88. Caumont castle escaped this fate as the Duke of Epernon had already given it to one of his sons.
In the nineteenth century, Armand, Marquis de Castelbajac, lived between the campaigns of the Napoléon Grand Army. He then left with his wife, Sophie de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, as Ambassador to St. Petersburg in Russia during Napoleon III reign. Then, Senator of the Empire and President of the General Council of Gers department, he devoted the rest of his life to this department. Today, the old castle and an orangery were restored and converted into reception rooms used for special occasions: weddings, seminars, exhibitions, etc.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).