Fifteenth - Sixteenth Centuries
The Garrevaques Castle was built in 1470 to protect the surrounding villagers from pillagers and robbers. Surrounded by exterior walls and moats filled with water from the Sor river, it boasted four towers and a tile roof.
On May 20, 1580, during the French Wars of Religion, the Protestants, led by the Viscount of Turenne, besieged the castle. The next day they gunned their way into the castle and stormed in. The following year, the castle was ransacked by looters from the forest of Vauré. My family, among the Protestants, arrived soon after the tumult and took possession of the lands of Garrevaques.
Eighteenth - Nineteenth Centuries
Caught in the crossfire of revolutionary vandalism, the castle suffered some fire damage but was quickly restored at the beginning of the 19th century. Most of the fortress was preserved. A second restoration, beginning in 1862, brought the castle to its current appearance. It has remained intact since, making it a living witness dating back to the second half of the 19th century.
The uniqueness of this house comes from the personality of its 19th-century renovator: Henry de Gineste, a Protestant count, who split his life among the Lauragais, Paris, and other European capitals. Passionate about avant-garde technology and architecture, Henry combined a traditional style with state-of-the-art innovations likely to offer modern comfort to his family.
Coming soon: more about the industrial revolution
In June 1944, the mayor of Garrevaques received a telegram order to evacuate the castle. The German army requisitioned the castle, which was housing only women and children at the time. Among its inhabitants were my great-grandmother and her young daughter, my grandmother. The residents of the village quickly mobilized with a series of teams to empty the building and secure the furniture, paintings, and souvenirs from theft and destruction.
The occupying troops departed on August 15, 1944 with the intention to destroy the castle. At the very last minute, my great-grandmother, Geneviève de Gineste, ferreted out three bombs -- effectively saving the house. Meanwhile, Jules Gasc, a World War I veteran with previous military mine clearance experience, managed to defuse the detonator -- also just in the nick of time.
Today, the 16th, 17th, and 18th generations of the family currently live in the castle. It is a privilege and also a responsibility. We are custodians of a history that we would like to share with as many people as possible in the future.
Coming soon: Learn more about the architecture
The Castle Gardens
The castle gardens contain many plant species that were identified during a survey in the mid-1990s; one notable entry is a 500-years old oak listed as a remarkable tree.
Like many Protestant houses, the chateau also has a private cemetery at the back of the gardens.
In 1878, Henry de Gineste redeveloped the gardens with plants from André Leroy* in Angers. The trees arrived by train to Revel. The archives of this redevelopment contain detailed plans, list of species, invoices, and even letters of complaint and instructions for the nurseryman.
* André Leroy (1801-1875), who came from a large family of gardeners, created the most important European nursery in Angers. In 1866, he began a vast, six-volume arboreal encyclopedia.