In the volcanic Auvergne region of central France, Château du Sailhant looms over 100-foot perpendicular cliffs. Architect Joseph Pell Lombardi, a preservation specialist for the last 40 years, restored the 12,500-square-foot château fort, which had not been modified for 100 years and whose earliest construction dates to the 10th century.
“The objective was conservation of the structure and interior design that totally respected the building campaigns,” explains Lombardi, who outfitted 19th-century rooms, like the grand salon, with period furniture and art. The 16th-century mantel is original to Sailhant.
In a corner of the salon, Louis XIII chairs are grouped around a games table and 19th- and early-20th-century Auvergne School paintings hang on walls covered with a Zuber faux-stone paper.
“The library is furnished with a complete set of hand-carved furniture in the French neo-Gothic style,” says Lombardi, who researched every phase of the château’s history, inside and out. This suite was carved by a local craftsman from the oak beams of Reims cathedral after the church was bombed during World War I.
The 19th-century kitchen, with its period copper cookware and kerosene lamps, has been updated with a La Cornue range. The terra-cotta tiles were produced in Les Rairies in western France, and the floor is paved with six-inch-thick volcanic stone.
At the base of the château, a 60-foot-high waterfall cascades into a prehistoric lake formed by a volcanic crater. Lombardi notes that “the sound of falling water can be heard in many of the rooms, including the master bedroom.”
Treading on Medieval Ground: Homes: architecturaldigest.com