Located near the river Creuse, in the middle of Indre département, we notice a big and high keep. Here! Flanks by 4 cylindrical towers, it’s pretty impressive! It was completely restored and transformed in the 19th century (thanks Mr. Viollet-le-Duc!), but it’s the oldest keep in France, with the square towers of Niort and Beaugency.
But why did they raise a castle here, in this lonely place? Are they loony? Well, not at all! In the Middle-Ages, the Berry was, with Limousin and Poitou (neighbouring areas), English lands! So king of France were constantly tried to pick a quarrel with the English.
So, they had to protect their land, here, in Ciron: fortunately, the river Creuse was a pretty nice natural rampart against the enemy. Yeah, the river is veeeery turbulent, so difficult to cross!
Here, Gaudin, son of the lord of Ruffec (first lord of Romefort), raised his keep. We were at the end of the 12th c. 3 huge ramparts were raised in order to protect the keep. The most important one get down to the river.
Nowadays, those walls are still here, only left basis of a round tower a little way away from the keep... In front of this one, we have the main building flanks by a round tower. A dwelling probably transformed in the 15th or 16th c...
The square keep (12 metres large and 30 metres high) is 22 metres above the river Creuse level. It keeps the same look it has in the Middle-Ages, well, almost: it was completely transformed in the 19th c.! Well, it was completely damaged, damp and abandoned: no more roofs, furniture... The ground floor was intact, but the whole castle was in ruin.
The family Bondy saved the castle between 1872 and 1877. They asked to architect Harveuf, famous Viollet-le-Duc’s disciple, to restore Romefort. But at that time, people like a particular style, “the neogothic”: a kind of pastiche of the Middle-Ages, not really academic...
Purists used to yell! The architect added big Romanesque windows in the walls, refit out the rooms... so Romefort started to lose his defensive medieval look.
Inside, he fit out a library, by joining together the 2nd and 3d floors. This room was very, very high, flanks by a mezzanine with balustrade. In the Middle-Ages, this room used to house the “gathering hall” and led to the lord’s rooms and latrines (located on the round towers that flank the keep). Top of the castle, we have the covered way, with a nice view on the countryside and the river.
Well, Romefort is a private estate... but we can visit it one day in the year, during the Journées du Patrimoine, in September! Don’t miss this rendezvous: people fond of fortresses will be serve!
We can visit few rooms, included the high, high library. Look, everywhere, we can see lots of funny little sculptures of animals of warriors...