A rare witness to the fortifications of the Thonon town walls, the Castle of Bellegarde, built on the edge of the ramparts, guarded the Lombards Gate and access to the town of Thonon. A local curiosity: bawdy friezes in sculpted wood.
Château de Bellegarde is one of Thonon-les-Bains’ last-standing medieval fortifications. It defended the town’s north-west flank. It was named after one of its owners, Janus Bellegarde, who was from Faucigny and was the town syndicate secretary in the 16th century. From the town hall go through the Gothic gate called Porte des Lombards to reach the château. The gate is so-called because of how close it was to a bank run by the Lombardian Johannovus Malcordi in the 14th century. Cross the courtyard and go down towards the Rives and under the fortifications via the Croulacul road. You will also see a border of bawdy characters sculpted from wood on the outer façade. Château borders: Go through the Porte des Lombards, turn left beneath the timber-framed arcade and you will see Rabelais-inspired wooden borders from the end of the 19th century. Legend has it that they are the work of an Austrian sculptor to clear his debt with the château owner, Mr. de Chanteau, as he couldn’t pay his rent. British man and goldsmith Julian Snelling (1943-2009) was inspired by the work during his time in Thonon-les-Bains and created a jewellery collection called “Les Dragons de Thonon”.
No entry, exterior visit
- In centre of town
- Close to a public transportation
- Pedestrian area
- Not open to the public