Château du Feuga, 8 centuries of history

Thierry spent most of his career in the software industry, first in Paris and then in Boston, where he started a family with Valérie in 2002.

A lifelong dream, in 2012 they set out to find a beautiful home in the south-west of France, with very specific criteria such as charm, authenticity, space, light and above all the location that was so important to their new culture.

With three young American daughters, and concerned about the long-term future of their investment, they looked for the best schools, the presence of a varied, and above all international, community, and finally the proximity of land and air links.

After countless virtual visits and a few physical ones, they fell in love with Château du Feuga. The discovery of the origin of Curious Georges at Le Feuga finally convinced Margaux, Mazarine and Alix, who had read and seen such wonderful stories throughout their childhood.

Aware of the extreme privilege of enjoying such a property, they have been working for over ten years to maintain, improve and develop, with the invaluable help of Didier and many local craftsmen, what remains an important heritage feature of the Gers and above all a truly unique place.

They enjoy sharing their property at various events and through seasonal rentals, which help them to finance the upkeep of this beautiful heritage.

21st century
The second revival

Château de Feuga was extensively and tastefully restored in 2000 by Shelagh Jonesformer assistant to Sir Paul McCartneyand her husband, the famous architect Christopher Stedman.

Removing undesirable recent additions, redistributing the functions of the rooms around its central entrance and stone staircase, preserving and reclaiming the finest materials, sourcing the best appliances from around the world, using historic building contractors, Christopher and Shelagh have not only preserved centuries of authenticity, they have maximised the house's habitability and given it those Tuscan scents that are so unique to this part of Gascony.

Unlike most other properties in the area, Le Feuga is a hidden gem with unspoilt 360° views stretching as far as the Pyrenees. Shelagh and Christopher have developed a magnificent setting that blends perfectly with the breathtaking scenery. A formal garden, rare tree species, beautiful fields, a romantic swimming pool, fountains and numerous terraces for dining and relaxing are the perfect extension of the light-filled interior, offering the ultimate in well-being.

More recently, the famous British businessman Peter de Savary developed the property by adding more land and numerous other features, including a typical iron gate, exterior lights and an English-style rose garden.

20th century
The birth of George the Curious

Living on the fifth floor of the Hotel Terass in the artistic Parisian district of Montmartre, Margret and Hans Augusto (H. A.) Rey began creating children's books in their spare time.

Hans draws the illustrations and Margret helps write the stories. The couple married in Rio de Janeiro in 1936, honeymooned in Paris and, having taken a liking to the city, decided to stay. Margret worked as an editor and Hans as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist. One of the first books, Raffy and the 9 Monkeys, was published in England and France (Rafi et les Neufs Singes) in 1939. It tells the story of a lonely giraffe, Raffy, who takes in a family of monkeys.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Margret and Hans temporarily leave Paris for the isolated village of Saint-Mézard. Here we are, they begin the first Curious George story while staying in a tower at Château du Feuga where they spent the next four months, hosted by their long-time friend, the German doctor Walter Katzenstein. The story, entitled Fifi: The Adventures of a Monkey, recounts the antics of the youngest curious monkey in Raffy and the 9 Monkeys. It was later published in the United States under the title Curious George.

At one point during their stay, the Reys are questioned by the village policeman, their German accents having aroused the villagers' suspicions that they might be spies. Suspicions are allayed when a search of their castle studio reveals only partially written manuscripts and the disarming watercolours of Fifi and Whiteblack, a travelling penguin and the subject of another story the Reys are creating.

The Reys returned to Paris in December 1939, and Hans continued his work on the illustrations for Fifi and Whiteblack. In the winter of 1940, as the war in Europe intensified, they decided to emigrate to Brazil, in the hope of eventually reaching the United States. In April 1940, they received an advance from the French publisher Gallimard for Fifi and two other manuscripts, which proved decisive in financing their escape from Europe in May. On 14 October, the Statue of Liberty welcomed Margret, Hans, Fifi and Whiteblack as the SS Uruguay arrived in New York. The Reys moved into a flat in Greenwich Village and began looking for a publisher for their stories. They did not have long to wait. In November 1940, they signed a contract with Houghton Mifflin to publish four stories, including Fifi: The Adventures of a Monkey and Raffy and the 9 Monkeys (renamed Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys).
Fifi took on a new name and everyone's favourite monkey was in print when Curious George was published in 1941. Les Rey created six more Curious George books over the following decades.

French Revolution
The first renaissance

Following a long period of financial decline for the d'Esparbes de Lussan family, which ended with the French Revolution, Château de Feuga remained inhabited for around 40 years. Baron Louis Marie d'Arblade de Seailles acquired it in 1821 and renamed it Château de Seailles, as shown on the 1824 Napoleon "cadastre" (map) of the Lomagne region. Louis Marie d'Arblade de Seailles became mayor of Saint-Mézard in 1823 and 1824.

At that time, the Château was still in the shape of a large U. The main building we see today was flanked on the west side by an extension similar to the one that still exists on the east side. Each aisle was around 40 metres long. While the main building, with its two small towers at each end, was two storeys high, the aisles were single storeys with very high openings and low attics. The main building probably had no openings on the first floor to ensure the safety of its residents.

The Château remained in the Seailles family for around a century, until 1921. His granddaughter Marie Louise (1855-1926) married Elie de Laborde-Lassalle (1851-1908) in 1879. In the 19th century, many castle owners wanted a medieval look. Château de Feuga was no exception to this trend, and Elie erected the medieval tower in 1887, as shown by the marble inscriptions still present in the Château. The current caretaker's cottage was also built at the end of the castle's west aisle. Sets of openings appeared on the first south floor of the main building, while the upper openings remained closed, probably for tax reasons.

Château de Feuga was then successively acquired by Monsieur Pardieu in 1921, by the Polish Drys family in 1928 and by Dr Walter Katzenstein in 1934, who was the first Jew to settle in the Gers. While the land belonging to the château was considerably divided, Mr Katzenstein managed to develop a 30-hectare armagnac business, which was kept alive for another two decades by Mr de Ponfilly. Château de Feuga was sold to Mr Bargue in 1971.

It is not known exactly when the east nave of the castle was considerably reduced in size. However, we believe that the western addition to the main building disappeared in the mid-20th century, including the church with the cemetery, about 200 metres east of the castle.

1562 - Feuga Castle
enters the d'Esparbes family

The Esparbès de Lussan family is an ancient noble house of Armagnac in France. Direct descendants of Hugues Capet, their name is mentioned in numerous charters from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. One of its most notable members was Louise d'Esparbès de Lussan, mistress of the future Charles X of France. The family produced two "marshals of France", ten "lieutenants general of the king's arms", ten "knights of the king's orders", "marechaux de camp", ambassadors, provincial governors, numerous "knights of Saint John of Jerusalem", including several commanders, and so on.

François d'Esparbes de Lussan married Anne du Verdier, daughter of Jean du Verdier, in 1562 and became owner of Château de Feuga as well as co-lord of Saint-Mézard. Château de Feuga remained in the family for around 250 years.

The d'Esparbès de Lussan family is an ancient noble family from Armagnac whose name is mentioned in a number of charters from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.

A family of sword nobility illustrated by men of war and by Louise d'Esparbès de Lussan, a close friend of the wife of King Louis XVI. It produced two Marshals of France, ten Lieutenant-Generals of the King's armies, Marshals of Camp, ambassadors, provincial governors, ten Knights of the King's Orders, bishops, numerous Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, including several Commanders, etc.

The d'Esparbès de Lussan family, barons of Pelletane, Motte-Bardigues and Chadenac, marquises, counts and viscounts of Aubeterre, counts of Jonzac, de la Serre, marquises of Ozillac and Champagnac, were an illustrious and ancient house of chivalry that flourished from the 12th century onwards and took its name from a land called Esparveriis (of the Sparrowhawks) in Latin.

The House of Esparbès, Esparvez or Esparvers originated in the seigneury of Esparbès, located a short distance from Auch in the former viscounty of Fezensaguet and in the present-day French canton of Mauvezin. It joins its name to that of the land of Lussan, which it owned for a long time (until the marriage of Jeanne d'Esparbès de Lussan to Jacques, Marquis de Marmiesse in 1617), 16 km from Auch (Gers), in the present-day canton of Gimont.

Its first known members include Géraud d'Esparbès who, in 1150, was prior of Saramon, and Arnaud d'Esparbès who, on 4 May 1162, made a donation to the monks of Grand Selve. The branch of Lussan was substituted for the names and arms of Bouchard d'Aubeterre. It passed into the Angoumois region in the 17th century.

She died with Emmanuel d'Esparbès de Lussan, who died for France on 16 August 1870 at Gravelotte.