Chateau Ampelle is located in the community of Pergain-Taillac. The castle sits high atop a butte and its massive silhouette can be seen from the departmental road D41 between Condom and Astaffort.
The construction is an example of the “Gascon chateaux” style of the thirteenth century, with restorations between the end of the fourteenth century and the fifteenth century.
The castle is a rather imposing structure, with a height of 12 meters, constructed according to a rectangular plan of 33.8 meters by 15 meters. The roof has numerous gables. The middle structure is in local limestone.
An external moat partially surrounds the castle on the north side and along a portion of the eastern façade. Virtually nothing remains of the defensive wall except “in the north-east corner, a construction in total ruin in which can be seen… a stone with holes that must have been loopholes for harquebuses.”
“The north-east corner consists of a construction of 7.63 meters on each side, in alignment with the north façade but that extends another 3.5 meters on the eastern façade. This structure could well be the base of an ancient tower that would have been razed during restoration (…)
At the time of its construction in the thirteenth century, the main building was somewhat smaller; it is almost certain that a later construction, narrower by 5.5 meters, was added to the south side of the main building either at the end of the fourteenth century or the beginning of the fifteenth century.
| Indeed, one will remark the architectural differences in this wing [of the building].”
Moreover, the add-ons and modifications in the centuries that followed have been eliminated by the current owner, Alain de Bourdonnaye, in an effort to rediscover the castle’s original appearance.
He explains this in a paper addressed to the archeological society of Agen on 6th October 1982, reprinted in a work entitled Du haut d’un château Gascon… je vous salue Monsieur Lauzun.
According to Alain de la Bourdonnaye, the castle was built entirely for defensive purposes, judging from the thickness (up to 2 meters) and height of its walls as well as the sophistication of its defenses.
One notes “the absence of any stairway or kitchen and rather few basins, even in the civilian quarters…
At Ampelle, a first floor with low ceiling, of approximately 2.5 meters, pierced only by a single arched entrance and 10 loopholes, reinforces the general impression of an entirely military structure.
Originally, there were only two encased fireplaces on the second floor, that is, shallow and not protruding from the walls. They are arc-shaped and rest on simple low legs.
By the same token, the rooms adjoining the main hall… could serve as hideouts. Indeed, they communicate with [the main hall] by secret doors that could be closed from the inside by means of a secure system of bars or large beams whose concealment in the wall was provided for during construction. The building’s situation is such that even the destruction of the watch towers would not impede surveillance of the region or communication with its neighbors: Taillac on one side and Escalup on the other—but also Saint-Mère and Plieux.”
As René Caïrou says, “This construction restored by its current owners gives off a pleasant impression, because the restoration was done with taste and with a respect for the archeology. They have managed to eliminate all parasitic structures that had disfigured [the castle] over the centuries and have preserved all doors, bays and defensive structures in their primitive state. They deserve the greatest praise for having saved from ruin and oblivion this beautiful monument to the heritage [of the department of the Gers]. One only has to visit the neighboring chateau of Escalup to see what Ampelle would have become without the faith, love and perseverance that its owners have shown.”