Country houses for sale

An astonishing 1,000 year-old château for sale, with gardens laid out by the man who created Versailles

A €15 million château has come on to the market that is one of the finest privately-owned properties in France. Holly Kirkwood takes a look.

If you’re going to buy a castle, you’re probably in the market for some history, and Château de la Barben, 20 minutes from Aix-en-Provence, has more than 1,000 years of the stuff. It’s currently on sale via Sotheby’s International Realty at €15 million – that equates to £13.2 million at the time of writing.

The castle’s first recorded historical mention dates back to 1064, when the property was registered in the records of the Abbey of Saint Victor, Marseille.

It was part of the holdings of King René of Naples – aka René of Anjou, or ‘Good KingRené’ – until  1474, when it was sold to the king’s close advisor, Palamède de Forbin.

The castle remained in the De Forbin family for 500 years, but was sold in the 1960s to the father and father-in-law of the present owners, Monsieur and Madame Bertrand Pillivuyt.

Château de la Barben

Inside, it offers vast accommodation, which is in excellent condition – something which is not always the case with châteaux. Emphatically not the case, actually – and nor was it here when the castle last changed hands.

A huge amount of work has been done in the last decade or so in particular, but Monsieur Pillivuyt and his wife, now in their 70s, are now looking to downsize.

The themselves are light and bright, from the cosy smaller bedrooms to extremely grand reception rooms. But there is always a sense of grandeur and history as well – both in the rooms themselves and the manner in which they’re furnished.

And outside things get even better: the formal gardens alone cover two and a half acres, and were designed by none other than André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s gardener and the man who created the gardens at Versailles, as well as working on Vaux-le-Vicomte, Chantilly, Fontainebleu and a number of other gardens which are amongst the greatest of all time.

As well as the gardens there are a further 759 acres of hunting grounds and two rivers renowned for fishing.

For sale via Sotheby’s International Realty – see more pictures and details.
All images ©Propriétés de Provence Sotheby’s International Realty

Château de la Barben