Chateau De VolloreChateau De Vollore
©Château de vollore

Castle life without nostalgia

A lavish, majestic and even mysterious place for visitors to discover, Château de Vollore-Ville no longer holds any secrets for its heir, François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette.

François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette in front of Château de Vollore

The château has been in the family for 2 centuries. Indeed, four years ago, the descendant of the family line settled in the imposing residence, and entered the family history. A history made up of those protagonists whose portraits now adorn the walls of the château.

Not that the young squire was overly impressed. With the necessary hindsight, he weighs up the weight of the inheritance.

It’s not a burden,” smiles François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette. But it does entail responsibilities. This place is so magical, we make it our duty to preserve it. It’s the natural thing to do.

The big story a look back

Built in the 12th century, the original château, whose Romanesque keep still stands today, passed into the hands of the Montmorin-Saint-Hérem family in the 16th century. Major renovations were then carried out. A major fire and the planing of the towers after the French Revolution marked the decline of Château de Vollore. For a time, it was even destined to become a stone quarry.

The château owes its resurrection to René Moreau, the architect responsible for French buildings, who gave it its current appearance.

More intimate stories

So much for the great history of books. But for François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette, there are other, more intimate stories.

As a child, François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette spent part of his childhood in these immense galleries, or in the 17th-century salon with its French-style ceiling, “ my favorite room, the one with the most beautiful proportions “.

My earliest memories go back to the Christmas holidays. We didn’t live in the château. These are memories of festivities with the whole family. We’d have aperitifs in the gallery, and open presents in yet another room.

In this same gallery, where, under the impetus of pianist Laurent Martin, the first Concerts de Vollore were held, the châtelain still remembers.

At the time, my cousins and I had a front-row seat on the stairs, listening above the audience. No one could see us. It was magical.

François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette : "Escape game and police investigation at Château de Vollore

François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette likes to talk about the past. Even as he looks to the future. History is not nostalgia. And he intends to write the next chapter of a château that has been constantly reinventing itself for half a century. Its survival depends on it. After opening its doors to the public in the 1970s, the building went on to expand its tourist offer, hosting receptions and, from 1997 onwards, offering bed and breakfast accommodation.

Today, François-Xavier Aubert La Fayette is following in the footsteps of the previous generation and opening the gates of the Château de Vollore a little wider. Two new activities, an Escape game and a police investigation have been added this year. “The idea is not to let myself be locked into a single activity,” explains the man who left the Paris region and a job as a management controller to embark on the life of a château. An existence a world away from that of his illustrious portrayed ancestors. The château is now shared. It’s up to everyone to take part in its history.


 Yann Terrat, journalist - La Gazette de Thiers-Ambert

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