To the east of the Cévennes in the department of the Gard, the Château de Portes, built starting in 1052 by the Anduze Family, controlled access to the Regordane Way, the mandatory route for Crusaders leaving for the Holy Land and pilgrims going to Saint-Gilles.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, during the Hundred Years War, the castle's defences were reinforced. The Budos Family, who had just acquired the seigneury, flanked it with two corner towers.
Ownership changed several times depending on alliances made against the English.
It wasn't until the 16th century, a more peaceful period, that the castle became more of a pleasure palace. Antoine Hercule de Budos, a vice-admiral who loved the sea, gave the new part of the edifice its sharp 49° angle jutting out in the shape of a ship's prow, which earned it the nickname of the Vessel of the Cévennes.
Today, the château is the property of the Coquebert de Neuville family.
Thanks to the association “Renaissance du Château de Portes”, the history of Portes is being written again with volunteers coming from throughout Europe to restore the castle which had fallen to ruin. Since 40 years ago, with the help of professional restorers, the monument has regained its original aspect. Already listed as a Historic Monument, it was inventoried as a world heritage site by UNESCO in June 2011.
On the south façade you can see wide fissures that appeared in the 1920s, caused by the galleries dug out below the building to exploit the coal. Over time some of them collapsed, threatening the Château's foundations. The galleries were filled and the fissures were stabilised but remain closely watched.
The old village of Portes, which had been in the location of the present day car park below the château, was seriously threatened by the hollowed-out ground's subsidence and had to be razed. The new village is situated a few hundred meters lower down from the château, in the style of the workers' buildings from the period. The stones taken from the old church went into rebuilding another one in the new village.
The château is open for tours and lets you discover the beautiful lordly residence over three of its stories. Each room has a monumental fireplace and beautiful décors mixing medieval and Renaissance. In summer, you can take part in the volunteers' work in the Château's courtyard. The site offers a magnificent panorama over the valleys of the Cévennes, the Mont Lozère and over to the plain of Alés.
In the area around Château de Portes
Swimming at Le Chambon 12km away, in the Luech river which flows through the valley.
Aquatic base in Camboux 13km away: swimming, pedal boats, canoeing, standup paddleboarding as well as many other activities that leave from the base: canyoning, spelunking, hiking...
Hiking trails on the GR700 – Regordane Way - http://www.gr700-regordane.com/
The House of the Miner in Grand'Combe, 10km away
Alès, capital of the Cévennes, 21km away
The prow of the Château de Portes, late 16th, early 17th century
Southwest Façade of the Château de Portes, round tower from the early 14th century
West Façade of the Château de Portes and 13th century square tower
Château de Portes - Hiking trails
Chateau de Portes in the Cevennes
Renaissance du Château de Portes - 3, rue de la Mairie - 30530 Portes
+33 (0)4 66 54 92 05http://www.chateau-portes.org