Château La Roque, an 11th century fortified castle, majestically dominates the village of La Roque sur Pernes in the Vaucluse. This magnificent citadel has traversed more than 1000 years of history.
The proprietors, Chantal and Jean Tomasino, had the idea of transforming this fortress into a luxury boutique hotel. You have a choiceof five deluxe and designer rooms for a dream vacation in Provence. Passionate about architecture, your hosts can regale you with the castle's fabulous, strongly linked to that of the Popes in Avignon. In 2015, the label VMF –Historical Heritage was attributed to Château La Roque.
Comfort and luxury in an authentic medieval setting
More than four years of restoration work was needed for Chantal and Jean Tomasino to renovate the building and transform it into an upscale guest house with a warm atmosphere and modern comforts. It took 8 months and 500 tons of rubble to bring the castle back to its original architecture. Château La Roque lets you experience that very special aura of a building constructed with respect for the golden ratio.
The history of Château La Roque in the Vaucluse
An ignored edifice, a little-known history and in a badly dilapidated state...that was Château La Roque's situation in 2000 when Chantal and Jean Tomasino acquired it. As its restoration progressed, the building showed itself to be of great historic and architectural richness, emblematic of the history of Provence. Few historic buildings in Provence can claim such along life. This fortified castle in La Roque sur Pernes, mentioned since the 8th century, was in the domain of the Counts of Toulouse before becoming the Popes' personal property for five centuries. In 1791, along with the Comtat Venaissin, it integrated the French kingdom. Château La Roque recounts the whole epic of Provence and the Popes of Avignon.
Until now it was difficult for us to really know the origins of the château of La Roque sur Pernes. However, our investigations have permitted us to present, in a few paragraphs, the major stages in the history of this site, which weathered the centuries and participated in the lively history of Provence and France up to the present day.
The town of La Roque sur Pernes attests to a rich prehistoric past. Its development certainly occurred during the decline of the Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions in the 5th century when the populations tried to escape the invaders. In the 8th century, the fortified castle already existed; it allowed the inhabitants to fight and chase out the Saracens during the different waves of invasions that started in 732. La Roque became an important market town with a château, a house of the Templar Knights, a leper colony, a soldiers garrison and a civilian hospital. This hilltop castle is a magnificent and impregnable observatory with a cliff on one side and a deep dry moat on the other.
In the 11th century, the château of La Roque sur Pernes (a Marquisate of Provence) was annexed to the County of Toulouse through the marriage of Emma de Provence with Guillaume III, Count of Toulouse. The counts, like other nobles, had their home here. Théodat, Lord of La Roque and a vassal of the Count, reinforced the defensive character of the château: the ramparts, crenellations and arrow slits, the keep and 4 towers. La Roque remained under the suzerainty of the Counts until 1229 (with the treaty of Meaux-Paris), date when the Count of Toulouse ceded his possessions along the Rhône to the king of France and the Papacy and had to raze the towers and keeps at about thirty of his castles, including the one in La Roque sur Pernes. In La Roque only a part of the ramparts and the building housing the soldiers (the present-day building) remained. The only daughter of the Count of Toulouse, Jeanne, married Alphonse de Poitiers, the brother of King Louis IX. La Roque sur Pernes then entered into the French realm.
Pope Gregory X took possession of what would become the Comtat Venaissin in 1274, following the death of Alphonse de Poitiers. The château of La Roque (La Rocca), set on the border of the pontifical states, occupied a strategic position for the Popes, who had it restored. The château had the privilege of belonging to the Pope's estate, of being in some ways the Popes' personal property. The Popes made sure that the lords in vassalage kept up maintenance of the château. From 1524 to 1569, the 2nd lord in vassalage to Clement VII, Boniface de Pérussis, restored and beautified the château to lodge his family there. His wife Hélène had a chapel built of which we can still see the some traces and inscriptions. In 1575, Sébastien de Séguins was named lord of La Roque, which became La Roche des Seguins. He continued the beautification and fortification of the château. The Séguins family held the lordship until 1623. The Apostolic Camera, weary of the following lords' negligence, decided to sell the lordship of La Roque to Galéan, Duke of Gadagne, in 1650. The château of La Roque lost its lordly privileges and became a private property. Nonetheless, the Apostolic Camera continued to ensure monitoring of the County's borders by naming its governors. The Marquis de Brantes, in the name of the Roman Curia, ensured the command of the village and mainly the castle to maintain order and collect taxes.
In 1741, André-Marie de Centenier bought the château of La Roque, the lands and the adjoining properties from Galéan, duke of Gadagne. In 1791, the Apostolic Camera returned the Comtat Venaissin to France. The period of the French Revolution was quiet in La Roque. The château, the church and the properties were respected. The Centenier family progressively ceded the château and all the adjoining lands to the people of La Roque.
In 2000, Chantal and Jean Tomasino purchased the Château of La Roque sur Pernes. They undertook the total restoration of the château, of which the main works were completed in 2004. These works brought to light the remnants of the building's history and the details of its architecture that up until then had been hidden. The renovation continues in sections each year.
Sources: History of La Roque sur Pernes by the abbot J.M.J. Constantin (1882); “Un vrai gentilhomme ami du peuple au XVIe siècle”. Sébastien de Seguins (Ed.1872) by Jacques- Marie Trichaud (Hachette Livre/BnF); The chronologies of Maurice Griffe (Maurice and Jacqueline Griffe – La Provence – TSH 11/2004; Copies of notarial deeds of property since 1741; Wikipédia.
Awarding of the VMF Historical Heritage label
In 2015, Château La Roque obtained the VMF -Historical Heritage label. The label is awarded to buildings that are not protected by the Historical Monuments preservation society but which are worthy of interest for their authenticity and for art history. It recognizes restoration work carried out with respect for architectural and regional norms.
VMF (VieillesMaisons Françaises) is a non-profit public interest association in the serviceof the preservation and enhancement of France's building and landscapeheritage.
Experience nights in a medieval castle
Booking at Château La Roque means staying in a room with quality comforts all while plunging into the exceptional history of theMiddle Ages and the Popes of Avignon.
Perched atop a rock overlooking the village of La Roque sur Pernes
Symbol of Chivalry and Nobility, the castle on its hill overlooks and protects its village. Your room is like a veritable observation post and although you may not spot any encroaching enemies you can still admire the valley below.
Admire the vestiges and traces of ten centuries of history.
In all of the rooms you can relish ten centuries of history, art and architecture in the historical features: inscriptions, arches, vaulted ceilings and arrow slits. To reach your suite, you climb steps of a stairway worn away by 1000 years of use. The whole building reveals to you its martial past in its ramparts, machicolations and drawbridge gate.
From parapet walk to gardens
Wander through the gardens on what was once the parapet walk and admire the flamboyant sunsets. Spot the old cisterns and the steps hollowed out of the rock. In all of the gardens you can relax in absolute peace and in all privacy, the village at your feet and the valley below it.
Your hosts and guides
Chantal and Jean Tomasino are happy to share with you these privileged moments and tell you all about the castle, its history and the romanesque epics it has known.