Once again, Invisible Bordeaux has made its way to Le Bouscat. This time we are headed for the leafy Parc de la Chêneraie to explore its centrepiece, a mysterious 18th-century mansion known as the Castel d’Andorte.
For many centuries the surrounding area had comprised of farmland and vineyards and regularly changed hands: it was the property of the chapitre of Bordeaux’s Saint-Seurin basilica for a number of years, then the legal counsel Arnaud de Ferron in the 16th century, followed by Étienne Duval, a knight who was also the Seigneur of Castets-en-Dorthe. In the 18th century Duval sold the land onto one Abbé (abbot) Laborde, a dean within the Saint-Seurin chapter.
|Castel d'Andorte today.|
Desmaisons was a failed artist who had switched career paths. Inspired by time spent working in a psychiatric hospital with an acquaintance, his plan was to open his own establishment, catering for wealthy patients who sadly suffered from mental disorders. In 1845 the “asylum” started out as a small concern, with a capacity of six patients, tended to by Desmaisons alone. Over time the institution expanded, welcoming more patients and additional staff. As well as offering activities such as reading, billiards, gardening and cookery, the abundant greenery was idyllic for patients. Its reputation was such that people even came from abroad to be treated in Le Bouscat.
|The tiny chapel is located alongside the mansion.|
|Inside the courtyard.|
Management duties were eventually handed on to Desmaisons’s successor, Dr Lalanne and later Dr Charonne, and the institution went on to operate until October 1968. The municipality subsequently acquired the domain and later the buildings, converting the area into a scenic park that they opened to the general public. And that is how things remain: the Parc de la Chêneraie site is now home to a children’s play area, the municipal music school, a crèche and holiday day-care centre, and small units in one of the mansion’s wings are used as community meeting rooms (salles du Carré).
|Parts of the mansion are in need of some serious tender loving care.|
Perhaps one day the ghostly mansion will therefore come back to life. Watch this space!
- Find it on the Invisible Bordeaux map:
- Castel d'Andorte, 79 Rue Raymond Lavigne, Le Bouscat