The charming village of Grignan is only a 30 minute drive from our home town of St. Cécile-les-Vignes. Dating back to the 11th century the village is dominated by a large chateau with fortifications built in the 12th century and a new wall and towers around the village constructed in the 13th century. The castle was destroyed during the French Revolution but was recently restored in the 20th century by a private citizen who then donated it to the province so that all could enjoy this historical gem and imagine what it looked like in the past.
This amazing Renaissance castle is famous for it’s connection with Madame de Sévigné, who wrote many letters to her daughter, Madame de Grignan who lived here in the 17th century, and she also wrote some of the letters while staying at the castle. If you are like me, you may recognize the name, but not be familiar with her work . "Et voila" a possible reason: The letters, although widely read and circulated in the French-speaking world and among cultivated readers of other lands they were not readily translated into English until recently. Although not all published or signed, she was a prolific writer composing over 1,120 letters!
French school children often read her works, as she is known as an icon of French literature. A few of her best-known admirers range from Horace Walpole in the eighteenth century to Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Thornton Wilder in the twentieth. Another reason that she is not so well known to us is because the genre she embraced was that of an épistolière, a writer of letters to friends, family and business contacts, although in this case they were mostly to her daughter Madame de Grignan.
We will visit the castle grounds, the interior (if you choose) and the charming medieval village of Grignan, which is also well-known for its roses! Grignan has over 150 varieties of roses displayed throughout the village from April through June.