Château de Saint Antoine is a marvel hidden in the complicit embrace of nature, an elegy of colours, sounds and rural aromas around a last century castle with charming lines.
It is located in Bonnac-la-Côte, a small village in the heart of Haute-Vienne, department of New Aquitaine, the largest French region, established in 2016 by merging the Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes.
Surrounded by the forests of Haute-Vienne
The green of its forests, between picturesque hills, stretches of water and the winding courses of rivers, can be perceived even before setting foot there, scrutinizing the landscape from the car window during the journey from Saint-Malo, the last stage of the tour Brittany, to the last of our #sognidoro in France, guests of Madame Raimbault.
Exhausted by the trip, we immediately decided to enjoy the tranquility of this place immersed in a ten-hectare park, populated by hens scratching around on the lawn and horses grazing in the shade of age-old trees, postponing a visit to the nearby city of Limoges.
Haute-Vienne is an ideal destination for nature lovers who can explore the vast areas of the region, such as the Lac de Vassivière and the Lac de Saint-Pardoux, as well as the Périgord-Limousin and Millevaches regional parks. So for us, after so much wandering, the perfect place to recharge our batteries before the long journey back to Italy.
The history of Château de Saint Antoine was told to us, in her excellent English, by Madame Raimbault as she accompanied us on a tour of the rooms and the ballroom all covered in wood and dedicated to events, especially weddings. Many couples choose the Château to fulfill their dream of love because, with its park, woods, pond and meadow, it is truly a magical place.
What most enchants those who decide to stay in one of the five rooms, all different, is the beauty of the place, the extraordinary blend of harmonies and landscape contrasts. The room that Madame Nathalie Raimbault has assigned us is the one that the noblewoman Emilie Bocca had created for herself. Named after her, it is furnished with 18th century furniture and overlooks the park and the large fountain.
25 kilometers from Château de Saint Antoine, in the idyllic countryside perfect for pleasant nature walks amid landscapes that look like paintings, the horror of the destroyed village of Oradour-Sur-Glane emerges, which suffered a terrible massacre during the war in 1944 of which only ruins remain, silent witnesses of a bad page in history.
A story that we did not know and that Madame Nathalie told us about: we could not fail to visit this place of memory. Certainly it may seem strange to some that we wanted to end our beautiful tour in France in this sad way, but we are convinced that the journey must bear witness to places and human events in order to be complete and best convey emotions, even the painful ones try among the rubble of the town where 642 men, women and children were killed by the SS.
Only four days after the Normandy landings, French partisans in the area killed a German officer. At two o’clock in the afternoon of June 10, 1944, the Nazis in retaliation shot the men of the village, while women and children were crammed into the church and died of asphyxiation under the rubble of the building filled with explosives and then set on fire. Among them also an Italian woman, Lucia Zoccarato, with seven of her nine children. Finally the whole town was burned in an attempt to erase the traces of the massacre and two days later the SS returned to dig mass graves where to hide the remains of the corpses. There were 6 survivors: a girl and five men and it was thanks to their testimonies that in 1953 the Military Tribunal of Bordeaux sentenced about twenty officers and ordinary soldiers: 2 to the death penalty, 12 to forced labor and the others to prison terms. But the ending is not sweet because an amnesty set everyone free.