A HISTORY OF WATER :

FROM THE GALLO-ROMAN VILLA

TO

THE HYDROTHERAPY CENTRE

 

The first mention of the castle appears in the archives in 1159 under the name of villa Sancti Desiderii - villa of Saint-Didier.

 

It was around 1500 that the seigniorial residence, built on the foundations of a Gallo-Roman villa, began to develop under the impetus of the Marquess of Thézan-Vénasque, who took over the site, transformed it and enlarged the original settlement, which gradually became a Castrum.

 

The main residence of this illustrious family from 1545 onwards, the Castle, which stands on the edge of the village of Saint-Didier, takes on the appearance of a beautiful Renaissance residence.

 

In modern times, Louis de Thezan, elected to the Contadine nobility in 1660, and his son Paul-Aldonce-François, were particularly involved in major modernisation work, increasing the prestige of the old Renaissance residence.

The building was considerably enlarged by the construction of a building on the remains of the old ramparts.

The project adopted the appearance of a building flanked by two wings connected by a vast terrace, typical of 17th century classical constructions.

Several ceremonial rooms were fitted out in these wings and decorated with splendour.

Another transformation, fundamental in the history of the Castle, was the change in the axis of the entrance at this time. The main entrance, which had previously been to the south towards the neighbouring village of Le Beaucet, was now directed towards the fortified tower of Saint-Didier.

This change goes hand in hand with the creation of a real enclosed garden to the south.

The structure, organisation and regular layout of the garden, characteristic of a French garden, are sometimes attributed to André Le Nôtre, who was then active in the region.

 

In 1809, all the property was sold at auction following the death of the last Marquioness of Thezan, who died without descendants.

Her niece, Olympe de La Baume-Suze acquired the estate.

 

She sold it in 1814 to Louis, Marquess Pelletier de Gigondas de La Garde.

The Marquess, accustomed to a sumptuous lifestyle, undertook extensive decoration and comfort work to restore the Château to its former glory. These receptions made Thezan famous beyond the regional borders.

His son Henri succeeded him and continued the embellishments. We owe him the transformation of the southern facade in a fashionable neo-Medieval style, giving it a romantic charm. It was at this time that the French garden was given the appearance of an English park. Ruined by an expensive lifestyle, he was forced to sell the Castle in 1862.

 

Adolphe Masson, a doctor from Carpentras, bought it to establish a hydrotherapy centre. Numerous rooms and treatment rooms were created and the remarkable rooms were decorated with new decorations.

On his death, his son-in-law, Doctor Masquin, succeeded him at the head of the establishment. He did not fail to add to the medical merits of the health centre the pleasure of worldly leisure. The "baths" were modernised to the great pleasure of the curists, attracting an increasingly wealthy clientele.

Throughout the 20th century, the hydrotherapy centre continued its activity. Its reputation does not falter. Gradually transformed into a clinic for rest and care of nervous diseases, the latter closed its doors at the end of the 1980s to be moved to a more contemporary building, which is still in operation in Saint-Didier.

 

Little by little, the Castle and its garden fell into neglect.

 

Having suffered the ravages of time and acts of vandalism, the property was in a critical state when we purchased it in April 2019.

Since then, we have been working to restore the property to its former glory so that we can share this jewel of Provence with the public, the inhabitants of the village of Saint-Didier and the surrounding area, as well as with travellers and other enthusiasts interested in the revival of the sleeping beauty of the Comtat Venaissin.

 

The opening of the exterior, the Cour d'Honneur and the Park, from June 2022 is the first step in an ambitious project to restore the Castle of Thezan.

 

We hope that soon, the discovery of the interiors, in full restoration, will allow you to complete the visit.