Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, scandalized 18th-century France with his pornographic writings and libertine lifestyle. The castle where the marquis indulged freely in his sexual passions was once reviled and left in ruin. Now it’s being restored, attracting visitors who are drawn to de Sade’s dark legacy.
The marquis first moved into the Château de Lacoste, which was originally built in the 11th century, in 1769. The castle soon became the site of many raunchy rendezvous. De Sade also engaged in his artistic pursuits while residing in the castle. An outdoor theater was constructed on the castle grounds where he produced plays he had written.
While he owned other residences around the area, de Sade developed a strong attachment to Château de Lacoste. This is evident in how many times he escaped to the castle between scandals and periods of imprisonment. After escaping custody in 1778, de Sade spent his last stay in Château de Lacoste before returning to prison.
After years of neglect, the castle laid in ruins, much like the legacy of de Sade himself. A renewed interest in the infamous marquis has led his works to be appraised as national treasures and places associated with him becoming popular sites of pilgrimage by de Sade’s modern fans.
The designer Pierre Cardin bought Château de Lacoste in 2001. The castle is now a site of an art walk, cultural festivals, theater performances, and concerts. When asked why he bought Château de Lacoste, Cardin gave the answer, “for my pleasure.” That answer would have, no doubt, pleased the Marquis de Sade.
Know Before You Go
The château is privately owned but is open to visitors from July to August. Cost of entry is 12 euros for adults and 8 euros for students/youths. Château de Lacoste overlooks the picturesque village of Bonnieux. Hikers will see wonderful views of the Alps, Monts de Vaucluse, Monte de Ventoux, and the Calavon Valley.