In the heart of the Tricastin Plain, the splendid Renaissance façade of Grignan Castle looks out from its hilltop vantage over the higgledy-piggledy tiles of the village that clings below its ramparts, spilling down the hillside to meet an aromatic sea of lavender. Rising above the roofs of the village, a scarlet quill is emblazoned on the side of the 17th century white stone belfry – an icon of the town’s annual summer festival and a symbol of its affinity with the dying art of penmanship.
Grignan’s love affair with the written word began towards the end of the 17th century, when the Count of Grignan – a Knight in the service of King Louis XIV and governor-general of Provence – married Françoise-Marguerite Sévigné, daughter of the marquise, Madame de Sévigné. When Françoise-Marguerite moved to Grignan Castle with her husband, Madame de Sévigné began writing long, daily letters to her, beginning just two days after the marriage and continuing for 25yrs.
Commissioned by Inntravel to showcase its Secret Provence holiday
Grignan Writing Festival
In Madame de Sévigné’s memory and honour, every July Grignan holds a Writing Festival featuring readings, exhibitions, performances and book markets. There are workshops on handwriting and calligraphy held in writing rooms filled with beautiful writing paper and beautiful envelopes and beautiful quills and beautiful inks – the lost tools of an art perfected by the marquise.
During the French Revolution, Grignan Castle was all but destroyed and left to decay. After decades of ownership by benefactors it was finally acquired by the Drôme Provence in 1979. Restoration work continues while the castle is open to the public and contains exquisite collections over three floors spanning four centuries, including the quarters of one Madame de Sévigné