The Landes department is home to many castles, some of which are open to the public and bear witness to a long history. Here is a small selection of these houses steeped in history that you can visit during your camping holiday in the Landes.
The Lau castle in Duhort-Bachen
Nestled in the Lourden valley, Duhort-Bachen is a 13th century bastide that houses a picturesque pink brick castle of Flemish inspiration. Built after the Hundred Years' War by Antoine de Castelnau, Lord of Lau and grand chamberlain to Louis XI, it has belonged to the same family since the Middle Ages. During a guided tour, you will be shown the large 15th century seigneurial rooms decorated with wall paintings, the flamboyant gothic style fireplace with sculpted decorations on the theme of the vine, as well as a collection of Romanesque capitals.
- Private residence open to visitors free of charge, all year round, by appointment on 05 58 71 51 89. Address: 356, chemin du Lau, 40800 Duhort-Bachen.
The castle of Gaujacq
In the heart of the Landes d'Armagnac, the small village of Gaujacq hides a beautiful seigneurial residence from the 17th century, built by a lieutenant general of the armies of Louis XIV. Entirely on one level, the castle of Gaujacq is organised around a "garden of delights", surrounded by an Italian-style gallery that evokes Tuscany and Renaissance palaces. Inside, the furnished and decorated flats are decorated with 17th and 18th century woodwork and painted panels.
- The castle is open to visitors from 15 July to 31 August. Candlelight tours by reservation. Address: 2 route de Brassempouy, 40330 Gaujacq, tel: 05 58 89 01 01. More info: www.chateau.de.gaujacq.free.fr
Located in Perquie, near Villeneuve-de-Marsan, on the borders of the Landes and the Gers, the Château de Ravignan is a beautiful Louis XIII style seigneurial residence built around 1660. Surrounded by a French garden and a romantic park, the château contains many historical treasures: furniture from before the Revolution, period paintings, objets d'art and a rare men's wardrobe from the end of the 18th century. The visit to the château continues with a tour of the estate's Armagnac cellars.
- Guided tour every day in July and August, at 3pm and 5pm. Address: Château Ravignan, 40190 Perquie, tel: 09 65 31 07 36. More info: www.armagnac-ravignan.com
The castle of Amou
In Amou, a peaceful and flowery village in Chalosse, you can visit a pretty castle of classical architecture, built in the 17th century to the plans of Mansart, the architect of Versailles. The reception room has retained its original ceiling and walls. A Gallo-Roman mosaic from the 4th century from the villa of Gleyzia d'Augreilh in Saint-Sever has decorated the hallway since 1902.
- Open for groups by appointment from 1 May to 31 October. Address: Chemin de Ronde - 40330 Amou, tel: 06 61 41 32 84. More info: www.chateauamou.com
The Fondat castle in Saint-Justin
Located about twenty kilometres north-east of Mont-de-Marsan, the small village of Saint-Justin is home to a splendid castle built in 1607 in the neo-Renaissance style, then redesigned in the 19th century. A real concentrate of charm and romanticism, the Château de Fondat will appeal to lovers of old stones and nature. The estate is notably famous for its 6-hectare park and its collection of rare trees, in particular gigantic 400-year-old Russian zelkovas, which have been awarded the "Remarkable Trees" label. Also worth seeing: the 17th-century wine storehouse, the Medici fountain, the large pavilion and the 18th-century dovecote.
- Guided tour with the owner from April 1st to October 30th. Address: route de Créon d'Armagnac, 40240 Saint-Justin, tel: 05 58 44 86 06.
Some castles visible only from the outside
Here are a few castles and beautiful private residences, not open to visitors, which jealously guard their treasures, but which are nonetheless worth a look even from the outside.
- The residence of General Lamarque in Saint-Sever: a private neo-classical castle built around 1812 for a major general under Napoleon.
- The Château des Évêques in Saint-Pandelon: castle occupied by the bishops of Dax from the 14th century until the Revolution.
- The château de Woolsack in Mimizan: a former hunting lodge built in 1911 on the shores of Lake Aureilhan by the Duke of Westminster.
- The Château d'Orthe in Peyrehorade: a plain castle of the Viscounts of Orthe, built in the 16th century and transformed in the 18th century, which today houses the Town Hall.