Litterally, “Châtelard” means “small castle”. Due to its promontory location above the Anguienne valley, the mansion was probably a fortified house in the Maddle Ages, just like the Château de la Tranchade which overlooks the opposite side of the valley.
An exceptionnal environment
The Châtelard is part of the little village of Dirac, Charente (South West of France). The 10 hectare lake is fed by the Anguienne, one of the three small tributary rivers of the Charente. Indeed, there are limestone cliffs, natural caves, springs and streams with white water, a thermophilic forest where holm oak occupies an important place. The Châtelard has an exceptional botanical richness with 176 plant species, 20 of which are of great heritage interest in the regional context.
Wildlife also presents elements of great interest, particularly with regard to mammals and invertebrates. There is an important diversity of bats, and dragonflies. The Châtelard and the paths that border or cross it are located in the heart of an area classified as NATURA 2000. This area is also referenced as a Natural Area of Ecological Fauna and Florist Interest.
The Domaine du Châtelard during the XXth Century
Two main families have marked the history of the estate between 1925 and 1996:
The Pontailler family between 1925 and 1955
The Deschamps family between 1955 and 1996
Daniel Pontailler, a native of Ruelle-sur-Touvre, settled in the Châtelard, which was a large farm in 1925, and then represented 113 hectares. He undertook to do important work to make this area habitable. Le Châtelard was the first home in the region to benefit from electrical comfort (apart from certain districts of Angoulême). He had the idea of building a swimming pool in 1934, then a tennis court. From 1948 to 1952, he exploited the grounds of the property. Daniel’s children left to join the army far from the region. Daniel Pontailler, a little desperate, refused to be alone with his wife on such an estate. He sold the Châtelard in 1955 to Michel and Odette Deschamps.
Michel Deschamps, passionate about the 7th art, marked a new page for the Estate and for Angoulême, which thanks to him became a hub of cinema – so much so that the city was nicknamed the small capital of cinema. The previews followed one another. The world of cinema appreciated and respected the work provided by Mr Deschamps. Many actors and directors came to Angoulême at that time. In 1955, Michel and Odette bought the Châtelard which spanned 100 hectares. They did some decoration work there and renovated the Mill and the Maine Terrou, two outbuildings of the estate that were in ruins. Memorable receptions followed at the Châtelard, many celebrities and stars came there to dine and spend the night: Annie Girardot, Brigitte Bardot, Johnny Halliday, Catherine Deneuve, Bourvil, Annie Cordy, etc.
Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, he made the huge meadow that extended behind the house into a large fish-filled lake. We built a dike, giving birth to a 10 hectare lake and it naturally took the form of an S.
A few years before his death, Michel Deschamps sold the Maine Terrou. On the death of Mr Deschamps, his daughter Jacqueline withdrew from cinematographic affairs, then a few years later, she decided to leave reluctantly, leaving her mother alone, who in turn decided to sell the property to an English couple in 1996.
Writing a new chapter
In April 2009, Pascale Erni, of Italian Swiss origin and Ivan Gotfredsen of Danish Swiss origin fell in love with this beautiful house. Admiring the natural and historical wealth of the place, they wanted to share it with their customers and created a hotel-restaurant, which has become a must in the region today.
The hotel restaurant opened its doors on June 25, 2009. Then, barely 5 weeks after opening, they had the honor and the surprise to welcome Gérard Depardieu for a month for the shooting of the film “Mammouth”.
The History keeps writing with today’s cinema…
Be welcome, visitor and friend, make history and be at home here!