Chateau de Salenques

In 1343 and the Comte de Foix at the time, Gaston II says “Le Preux/The Valiant” and his wife, the famous Eléonore de Comminges, had founded a project, in agreement with the papacy, to build a convent for women on the field of Salenques, that same year, the tragic death of the Comte de Foix put this project on hold. It would take ten years for his son, Gaston III, better known as Gaston Phoebus, who had succeeded him on the throne of the Comte de Foix, to respond to his mother’s desire for his father’s wish.

It would be in 1353, that he built the Parish of Saint-Felix des Salenques An abbey for women to which he gave the name of Notre-Dame de l’Abondance-Dieu. This monastery was intended to accommodate some thirty nuns subject to the order of the city. Given the illustrious origins of this convent, the nuns who lived there were all from the very large families of the provincial houses of the province (Comte de Foix, Comte Comminges). Until the end of the fifteenth century, this monastery enjoyed opulence and splendour. But at the end of the fifteenth century, the decay takes little by little on the prosperity of yesteryear, historians have mentioned several reasons in this change of situation: the quarrels that plagued the Comte de Foix. The Hundred Years War under which the kingdom was plundered and which did not spare the convent. At the beginning of 1483 the convent only housed about ten nuns.

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Aerial Shot of the Chateau de Salenques in 1971, Source Remonterletemps

In 1570, the convent and the church of the Salenques did not escape the wars of Religions raging in the region. They were a target of the Huguenots, who, after looting them, set fire to them. to escape the barbarism, the nuns had to flee their convent, they find a haven of peace, first at the Chateau de Pailhes and then at Montesquieu-Volvestre. In 1630, once peace was found, with their head, the new abbess, Anne de Noah, they return to Salenques, but their illustrious house was no more than a ruin and many repairs were necessary, but living in such conditions became a daily danger to them, as the buildings threatened to fall at any time.

In 1645, they once again leave the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l’Abondance-Dieu de Salenques to settle in the capital of the Comtes de Foix at the foot of the comtal chateau in a street which today bears the name of “Rue des Salenques”. In 1663, the Abbess of the moment, brought everyone back to the Salenques and wished as his predecessor, to restore the house, but once more the resources were lacking. In 1681, in March to be more precise, the nuns leave Salenques for Toulouse where they recreate their convent in a house of the current ‘Rue des Salenques’. In 1789, the French Revolution, the death knell of the Abbey de Salenques, all property will be seized and subsequently sold.

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Aerial Shot of the Chateau de Salenques in 1993, Source Remonterletemps

The owners in 1939, just before WW2, was the famous Raynaud family. This family has given several mayors to the local commune : Gaston Raynaud from 1889 to 1894 and Albert de Ladevèse, his son-in-law, from 1870 to 1889. For the nostalgic, the little train of the valley of the Arize “The Salenques ” were one of the many stops of the famous “Tortillard” line, which in 1920/1937 connected Mas-Azil to Carbonaceous.

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Aerial Shot of the Chateau de Salenques in 1998, Source Remonterletemps

For some, the name “Les Salenques ” Reminds them a plantation of apple trees that were planted here in the 1960’s, its fruit station was built in 1963, it was one of the economic lungs of the Valley of the Arize (30 employees permanently; 120/130 for picking). For others, it is a magnificent mansion that shone during it’s great fire during the first part of the twentieth century.

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Aerial Shot of the Chateau de Salenques in 2013, Source Remonterletemps

During the excavations in 2006, the abbey is noted as still in an excellent state of conservation and gives us a lot of information about the construction of 14th century abbeys. The walls that we can see now are ‘of period’, even if they have undergone transformations according to successive owners. A part of the cloister is still visible with its arcade openings, as well as the inner courtyard which once served the nuns. The northern wall of the ancient Chateau de Salenques, which perished in flames in January 1997, is, according to specialists, is the former north wall of the Church of Saint Felix de Salenques. The same place where the Countess of Foix was buried in 1373.

We turned up outside and pulled into a car park, i was just taking some shots outside when a truck pulled into the yard, i asked if they know anything about the chateau and he said that it burned down in 1997 and that it was currently for sale so should have a look, the property at this time is currently for sale with 20ha of land for €520,000. Will someone be willing to save the old Abbaye de Salenques.

2018