The Dordogne Valley has many castles but our all time favorite is Hautefort in the northeast of Dordogne!
More infos: http://www.chateau-hautefort.com/en/
But, very few people know that in night of the 30th/31st of august 1968, the village of Hautefort woke up in panic watching the castle going up in flames.
The recent event of the Notre Dame fire brought back these memories.
It’s impossible to talk about the Hautefort tragedy without admiring the tenacity, determination and courage of it owner, the Baroness Henry De Bastard!
In 1929, the Baron and the Baroness de Bastard purchased the inhabitable and in bad need of restoration castle of Hautefort. The baroness spent 35 years and her fortune to bring it back to its former glory.
In 1967, she was able to move in and decided to open the property to the public.
It took only a cigarette butt thrown in a pile of sawdust in the attic by two teenage girls to cause the partial destruction of the property.
Only 2 days after the fire, the Baroness, devastated, declared that once again she will save Hautefort!
She gave the castle to the collectivity to set up the Hautefort foundation.
The whole country was moved by the tragedy following a huge campaign.
Prime time radio shows, stamps, christmas cards were released to encourage generosity.
The ORTF ( Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française, national agency charged with providing public radio and television in France announced on the 30th of november 1968 on the news the launch of the Hautefort Christmas cards (1 franc each with 0,80 centime going to the Hautefort Foundation) sold to rebuild Hautefort (listen from 12’20 to 18′)
Hautefort Stamp released in 1969 to rebuild the castle
In 1976, most of the work was completed.
The total cost was approx 10 million of francs ie 1,5 million euros (back then in 1969) for its reconstruction (52% from the Baroness own money, the rest: 35% from the Historic Monuments of France, 4% from the Dordogne Departement, 4% form the Aquitaine Region and 5% from the public (sale of postcards, stamps, 626 private and public donations)
Today, the magnificent Hautefort castle is standing proud and more than ever acknowledged as one of the must-see in the Dordogne Valley!
No wonder, it’s in our Top 10 Must See
Fondation du château d’Hautefort
Radio France – Harry Sagot
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Hautefort is located approx 1h30 from our rental in Beaumont du Périgord.