On the landscape plan of the park designed around 1880 for Paul Mas (1837-1899), then owner of the estate, the château appears topped with a slate Mansard roof adorned with imposing lead dormer windows adding a floor to the building.
The region, a true El Dorado of wine experienced fabulous growth.y the end of the 19th century. Competing in splendor, vineyard castles are growing like mushrooms. Appearance is at its peak. We must build rich, large, imposing. As will be the astonishing building (54 meters long by 8 meters wide) which includes the school group and the town hall of Montlaur with proportions worthy of a town hall that Paul Mas, mayor of the village, built in 1902 on land that he offers to the municipality.
Great builder, the elected lord continues his work. Has he not just considerably enlarged his castle, the former residence of Gabriel de Barthélémy de Gramont de Lanta (1594-1652) built in 1636, by raising it by two floors and providing it with grand staircases, reception rooms, galleries, terraces?
And to crown the bell tower of the village church in 1878 with a spire covered in slate? Thus, the town hall, the castle, the church, with slate roofs so unlike Aude but so dear to Viollet-le-Duc who has just awakened the nearby City of Carcassonne, form a whole.
(Photos circa 1925)
Alleys of olive trees, shaded paths lined with Ophiopogon Japonicus, remarkable trees, Sapo pines, lime trees, American walnuts, majestic cypresses evoking Italy... timeless, the place invites you to daydream.
In poor condition and judged unsightly, the château's slate roof was replaced in the 1940's with a Roman-tile roof more harmonious with the local architecture. Only the western tower's slate roof was conserved as a reminder of the past… and in homage to the Mas family, who had adorned the château with an agrestic coat of arms (located above the Grand Staircase, it features scythes, pitchforks, bunches of grapes and ears of wheat), and who left behind the park as one of the great landscaping achievements of the golden era of Languedocian viticulture.
Today the Domaine de Montlaur park is one of the most beautiful gardens in Occitanie.
Created towards the end of the 19th century by Paul Mas, the entire garden has since undergone very few transformations. We find the alley of plane trees, the alley of flowers. the grove. The current swimming pool was buil to the place of the large pond which was never built. Note the mansard slate roof adorned with imposing lead dormers adding a floor to the building.
Many buildings were part of the Domaine de Montlaur. Built in 1900, the Intendant Pavilion located at the entrance of the property was the residence of the head of crops who ran the entire estate. The "cane manager", he administered, distributed, and controlled the work of the winegrowers, overseeing with authority the smooth running of the harvest and vinification. For him, there were no pruning shears, no spade, no hood... but a cane.On the other side of the road, "The Cottage" , a former winegrowers’ accommodation, housed working families of the "gagés" and the "ramonés", the people who took care of the horses. Built in the 17th century with some of the stones of the medieval fort of Montlaur, as most of the houses in the village, it housed the cellar of "Moussié" (sir), the first cellar of the estate. On the south façade, an arch made of dressed stone shows the old opening of the cellars. Deposited upstairs, the harvest fell directly into oak tuns.
This is where the grape pickers were later housed. It was also the home of Elise, the castle's gardener, who raked the paths of the park cursing the chestnuts that kept falling down.
Facing the "Cottage", the strange crenellated tower was once part of the outbuildings of the property which included - among other things - the adjoining buildings, the former stables. At the foot of this curious building, the estate's water tower, a donkey continually turned, operating a pump that brought water from a well to a reservoir located at the top of the tower. The latter fed by gravity the second floor of the castle as well as the cellar and the buried hydraulic circuit of the park allowing the watering of the garden and the former vegetable garden (today a bowls pitch and housing estate of the commune). Electricity replaced the donkeys, then the water supply, the water tower.
The legend says that Montlaur's village, "laurel mounts" , has his name from Charlemagne's victory on theInfidels; But these laurels, old of more than twelve centuries are too old to be true. It remains that the village, fief of the abbot of Lagrasse, was built around a fort built around 1170 on the order of Pierre-Roger de Trencavel, Viscount of Bézier, Carcassonne and Albi.
Fallen a few years later in the Cathar heresy, the lord of Montlaur is chased by Simon de Montfort who seizes the stronghold in 1210. A century later, the fortress with the double enclosure is only a memory that the Wars of Religion ended. Finally, in 1632, the Baron de Moux and his two sons joined the governor of Languedoc, Duke Henri II de Montmorency (who supported Gaston d'Orléans in his run against his brother, King Louis XIII), laid siege to the bastion of Montlaur, who remained loyal to the king and the abbot of Lagrasse. Lost cannonballs reach the church built in 1399. The bell tower falls on the sacristy.
The following year the war damage was repaired. Three years later, Gabriel de Barthélémy de Gramont de Lanta (whose family allied itself with the family of Pierre-Paul Riquet, the builder of the Canal du Midi) rebuilt the church in place of the old cemetery and endowed it with two chapels (the other two date from the Third Republic). The keystone of the building, which bears the date 1636, and the inscription "Vive le roy" (Long live the king) carved into an escutcheon are evidence of this. The war was over, the stones of the fort were used to rebuild the House of God and the population settled outside the walls, taking advantage of the demolition of the citadel to build barns and houses.
In 1921, on the death of Edouard Niermans, Jean (1897- 1989), First Grand Prix de Rome , and his younger brother, Edouard (1904-1980, both architects took up their father's work. Renaming the firm “Les Frères Niermans” (NiermansBrothers), they build : in Puteaux the City Hall and the Marius Jacotot school campus,. In Paris' Palais de Chaillot theatre and Maison de la Radio concert hall,. In Algiers the City Hall.
Jean (1897-1989) First Grand Prix de Rome — on the right— and his younger brother Édouard (1904-1980) — on the left— both architects are continuing their father's commitment. When he died, they founded in 1928, the architectural firm “Les Frères Niermans"
Below, . Detail of the low relief of the Town Hall of Puteaux. Sculptor
Alfred Janniot,First Grand Prix de Rome
Upon returning from Rome's Villa Medici, Jean Niermans authored the fresco of Saint Michael slaying the dragon in the Saint-Michel chapel at Montlaur's parish church, which Gabriel de Barthélémy de Gramont de Lanta had erected in 1636 as a prayer for descendants. The pious man's wishes were granted, as he and his wife Anne de Malacoste gave birth that same year to a daughter, whom they named Noble Jaquette , and for whom they subsequently had the château de Montlaur built.
A homage to God's grace, the Saint- Michel chapel of Montlaur church is now part of the Montlaur Estate.