Carolyne Kauser-AbbottExplore: Travel in ProvenceProvencal History & Traditions

Touring Mysterious Château de Saumane in the Vaucluse

Until recently the village of Saumane, in the Vaucluse, was not on many tourist’s itineraries and the town’s residents probably liked it that way. After four years of restoration work and a large budget, the hilltop Château de Saumane has opened for public visits during summer months.

Château de Saumane Vaucluse Fortified Exterior

Writer, philosopher, political activist Marquis de Sade lived in the castle for five years (1745 – 1750), from the ages of 5 to 10 years old, with his uncle the Abbot de Sade (Jacques-François-Paul-Aldonce de Sade). The Marquis’ young impressions of Château de Saumane’s strange architecture its dungeons, defensive walls and secret passages seem to be reflected in his later writings (The 120 Days of Sodom – Les 120 Journées de Sodome ou l’école du libertinage).

Château de Saumane Vaucluse Exterior

Today, the population of the perched village of Saumane is less than 1000 people (931 according to a 2014 survey). The road leading to the town and its Château skirts an immense rock wall, which speaks to the castle’s past as strategic, defensive outpost. Until the 13th Century, the hamlet fell within the Comtat Venaissin, the territory ruled by the Counts of Toulouse. After that time, Saumane was incorporated into the Papal enclave that radiated from Avignon.

Château de Saumane interiors chapel

Little known about the origins of this 12th Century structure. Expanded in the 15th Century the fortress would have been impressive and visually impregnable with its sturdy rampart walls. However, the most significant architectural mystery related to the Château de Saumane is the extreme contrasts between its austere Renaissance façade and the stronghold entryway with walls that are almost two-meters thick.

Château de Saumane Painting

The interior rooms at Château de Saumane are just as mystifying. There are beautiful vaulted ceilings, period paintings, a chapel and an elegant horseshoe-shaped stairway.

Château de Saumane interior room

The Sade family remained proprietors of the Château de Saumane until 1868. In 1982, it was purchased from private owners by the Vaucluse Council.

Château de Saumane interior room

Contact Details:

Monts de Vaucluse Pays des Sorgues Tourism Office
Tel: +33 (0)4 90 38 04 78
When you visit, we recommend taking the informative guided tour.

Château de Saumane interior room

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride was at six-months old, her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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