Jeanne de Balzac d’Entraygues built Montal (1523-34) for her oldest son who was killed while fighting for Francois I and thus never saw it. Only two wings were finished around its Court of Honor.The finest craftsmen and artists were employed. It is in Renaissance style with many recalls of Chambord, only much more compact. It sits on a rolling hill and from the distance looks like a fortress. There is a small chapel below, along the Road to Compostela which was built to provide a night’s shelter to pilgrims. Tips on this and the sights at the Chateau are posted under "Off the Beaten Path" here at St.-Cere.
The community has carefully pave or restored its. streets. Like some other similar communities, modern utilities are carefully buried and signs are limited in type (although modern awnings are allowed). This enhances the medieval looks of the old buildings, many of which have been carefully restored. The first site to focus on is the Place Mercadial and its lead building the La Seguerie House (15C). In the square is a an ancient water source. Near the chevet of the old church, Ste.-Sperie, (redone in the 17-18C) with a nice bell-tower, is another type of mansion "La Tour Puymule" quite sturdily protected with a Tower and decorated with accoladed Renaissance arches. In other streets one finds many corbeled facade and corner turrets, building more advanced than the simple half-timbered houses here and there.
On a downhill slope below the chateau is a chapel built to provide shelter and food for pilgrims on their way to Compostela. A scallop shell, with the Montal emblem at its center, is prominently displayed over the door. The actuat road is in front of the chapel with a path and an old bridge.
The facade of the Cour d'Honneur of the Chateau bears 7 full-cut relief medallion busts of the important family members. From left to right starting on the left wing are the father and mother: Amaury de Montal and his wife Jeanne. Then nearest to the entry door (and #1 in our pictures) is Robert, the son who died at war before receiving his maternal gift of the castle. First on the right wing is Dorde, the second son, who was released from the clergy by the Pope so that he could continue the family line. The following three include one female, mother of Jeanne, Antoinette de Castelnau (another beautiful sactle with a view of the Dordogne, only a few km away).
3 km out of town on a hill overlooking the Bave river is a chateau that is the equal of many in the Loire area. Not all of the rich nobility were interested in following the court, but wished to have opulent abodes where they had land holdings. This one was built by Jeanne de Balzac d'Entreygues, a widow, for her son (during 1523-34) who was away at the Italian wars. Unfortunately he was killed and only part was finished by his unhappy mother. It was built on the base of an old fortress; only two sides, forming an "L" were finished . The ends had teapot dome towers; in the angle was a staircase (see a Separate Tip here). The facades on the Cour d'Honneur were lavishly decorated (we wonder how she attracted the mason-sculptors away from the Loire to create this masterpiece). In the 19C it was inherited by a spendthrift who meticulously engaged groups to dissect away the stonework for sale on the Art Market, extensively mutilating the castle. Early in the 20C Maurice Fenaille, a millionaire, purchased Montal and embarked upon a successful effort to repurchase and install all of the sculptural items ( the Victoria and Albert would not relinquish their piece) a work that procedes through the generations. He also initiated the furnishing of the chateau in period materials (although they have had to settle at times for Louis XIII period pieces). You park below the Chateau and walk up through the countryside, which you can later view out the windows.