This 11th century chateau in Thuir, France, wears the scars of battle well. Attacked many times, the fort-like property still has cannonballs embedded in the walls.
Set on the site of ongoing turf wars in the Pyrénées-Orientales, also known as Northern Catalonia, the once simple stone keep was fortified over the centuries. During World War II, site was looted and left to ruins. The 1960s marked the beginning of its rebirth. Today, the restored structure is a private residence.
From a rocky point overlooking the valley, the irregular-shaped chateau takes in views of the Mediterranean, the medieval Cathar castles and the Pyrenees mountain range.
The nearly 7,000 square feet of living space is spread over three levels. An old dungeon now houses a bar. The onetime weapons room is a home theater armed with projection equipment. A light-filled library with a fireplace on the top floor offers a great lookout point to spot advancing invaders or just enjoy a view of the sea.
The former chapter house, or meeting room, on the first floor contains the kitchen and a dining room with high ceilings and arched doorways. The wood-beamed topped living room centers on a massive fireplace.
The renovations are in keeping with the medieval roots and personality of the structure. Arrow slits in some of the walls and doors have been preserved. Stone walls and stained-glass windows are among the details.
There are seven bedrooms and six bathrooms.
Among modern upgrades are a heated swimming pool with a pool house and a rooftop deck with a fountain.
A balcony above the garden creates an al fresco breakfast room and takes in views of the forest and an adjoining chapel.
The 17 acres of wooded ground include fruit trees, vines, mature trees and flowers. A large stone fountain occupies a tranquil corner of the garden.
Thuir is some 15 kilometers, or less than 10 miles, from the small, international Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport.
Hiking and biking are popular in the region. Area restaurants and bistros offer local produce, cheese and wines.
Among popular regional dishes are cassoulet, a bean and meat-based dish traditional to southwestern France, bourridefish stew and clapassade, simmered lamb seasoned with olives, honey and anise.