The History of the Château

Constructed between the 11th and 15th centuries, Roussillon had 8 towers, 3 main buildings, a chapel and a cloister. This was a fortress doubling as a charming castle.

It seems that it was built on much older vestiges of a strong hold of the Duke of Waiffre, a duke of Aquitaine, during the war against Pepin the Short (King of the Franks) in the 8th century.

In the 13th century the castle belonged to the Roussillon family (sometimes written as Roussilhon), a modest family of horsemen, from whom the castle probably takes its name. It then became the property of the Cahors in bankers until the 14th century.  

During the 100 year war between the French and the English, Raymond d’Antéjac, the lord of Roussillon, recognised the King of England’s rights to the French Crown and opened the castle to the English in 1355.

The consuls of Cahors paid the english to depart.

The castle then passed through marriage to de Jean, Vayrols, Auriole and Gontaud-Cabrerets families who looked after the castle until the 18th century.

In 1632, Jean III of Gontaud-d’Oriolle received King Louis XIII on his way back from Toulouse for a lunch stop at Roussillon.

In 1728, Antoine-François of Gontaud-Cabrerets owned Roussillon as well as the castle of Cabrerets where he preferred to reside. The Lady’s Chamber of Roussillon (now the main reception room) was divided into 3 rooms by partitions which served to house the farmers. Abandoned by the lords, Roussillon lost its splendour.

If the castle itself was poorly maintained, the grounds still consist of great riches. The hill that dominates the old fortress is covered with vines. A document from 1766 tells that here one cultivates a table wine and a black wine which then added to other wines permetted their transportation and that one should pay attention to the Roussillon wine as it is of a much better quality than those of Cabrerets.

During the Revolution, Roussillon only represented a symbol of power. Thus it was not a victim of the people’s vindictiveness. But its ruin worsened in the 19th century when the heirs of the Maréchal de Gontaud-Biron sold the castel to the Roussillon farmer two transformed it into a quarry and systematically dismantled it to sell the stones to build houses in the nearby villages.

In 1958 Pierre and Marcelle Mailhol, school teachers in Cahors, fell in love with the ruins of the castle. Impassioned by the old stones, they bought Roussillon and learnt how to restore it. At this time the castle was buried in earth and rubble up to the first floor and in some places even the second floor. It was hard to determine the architecture of the castle.

Huge amounts of work were carried out to renovate the three towers, two of the main rooms and the Lady’s Chamber to recover the former splendour.

Jean-François Mailhol, Pierre and Marcelle’s son, dedicated his life to continuing his parents work with passion, restoring the Château de Roussillon to its former glory and securing its structure to preserve it for the future. The Mailhol family’s work across two generations truly saved Roussillon from abandon and neglect, and made it what it is today.

Jean-François worked tirelessly also to open the château to the public for weddings and events, allowing hundreds of people to experience the magic of Roussillon. Charlie and Julien Peignart fell in love with Château de Roussillon when they got married there in 2019. Two years later, Jean-François told them he was thinking of selling the castle, and they decided to pack up their Parisian lives, leave their jobs, and move to the Lot in January 2023 to continue his legacy.

Roussillon seen from above

Discover more photos and videos on our Instagram