chateau de bagnols

Photos courtesy of Château de Bagnols








Guichard d’Oingt, an ally of the Archbishop of Lyon built Château de Bagnols between 1217 and 1221. From the arrow-loop windows of its three round towers watch could be kept over the entire valley. During times of siege, villagers crossed over the moat and took refuge in the lower courtyard.

After the Hundred Years’ War, the royalist d’Albon and de Balzac families took possession of the property. The prosperity of nearby Lyon as the banking capital of France also led to improvement in the residential aspect of Bagnols. Geoffroy de Balzac, adviser and chamberlain to Charles VIII added large windows to the exterior walls and mullioned windows to the inner court.

In succeeding generations, wealthy merchants from Lyon would marry into the aristocracy and move into the castle, slowly turning it away from a defensive structure and into a grand residence.

By the end of the 18th century, Bagnols’s luster was gone. It now became a working farm, its garden converted to a vineyard and vegetable patch.

In 1987, Helen Hamlyn, wife of English publishing mogul Paul Hamlyn hired 400 craftsmen and spent four years restoring the castle ruins to an exquisite new life as one of France’s top castle hotels.

Pamela’s Perspective

This is an extraordinary property. Come here for any special occasion or splurge in your life you can think of.

Some rooms, although equally wonderful with wood-beam trim and calico drapes, are located in outbuildings—the former stable and carriage house. I would opt for a room inside the main castle.


Château de Bagnols

A 13th-century castle


69620 Bagnols
Tel: ++33 (0)4 74 71 40 00
Hotel website
Reserve with

Fast facts

21 rooms and suites

Double rooms: from 250 euros
Rates include tax
Special packages available.

Open: 3rd week of March through December

Getting there

Bagnols is 25 km north of Lyon or 15 km southwest of Villefranche on D-38. The nearest rail station is at Lyon. (Do not confuse this village of Bagnols with others of the same name in France.)

What to do

On site: seasonal swimming pool
Nearby: Beaujolais country; Lyon; golf; horseback riding; hot air ballooning; tennis


Yes. Exclusive use of property possible. Inquire hotel for details.


A honey-yellow stone fortress set amid the vineyards of France’s Beaujolais country sounds almost too idyllic to be true. Believe the publicity; this is a magnificent castle hotel.

Each guest room is decorated to perfection, taking advantage of the castle’s unique architectural idiosyncrasies. The Geoffroy de Balzac suite features a 500-year-old ceiling painting. The Madame de Sévigné room allures with its fireplaces and ceiling arabesques; arrow loop windows in an ancient tower (holding the bathroom of the Seigneurs d’Albon room) look out over the countryside.

For a grand splurge try the Appartement aux Bouquets, with two fireplaces, wall paintings, a bed crowned with a golden canopy, and a Napoleonic bathtub.

To remind you of the 21st century, look closely in your room and you’ll find a plasma TV.

The attention spent on the guest rooms carries over into the restaurant. Antique designs have been re-created for the table settings and linens, including Sheffield knives and linens from Liddell of Ireland.

The cuisine has been awarded a Michelin star. Dining here, especially with a wine pairing, is an unforgettable experience.

Something special

curlicueWine tasting in the castle cuvage, or wine pressing room

curlicueCooking classes

curlicueNational Historic Monument