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in the bowels of Abbadia castle, the lair of an explorer passionate about Africa



Video length: 4 min.

France 3

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C. Laronce, V. Bouffartigue, D. Arzur, S. Malin, JB Sorin, Basque Country Drone

France 3

France Televisions

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The Abbadia castle, in the Basque Country, is a treasure that mixes cultures and inspirations. Partly imagined by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the former home of Antoine d’Abbadie is an invitation to travel.

Above the bay of Hendaye (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), the Abbadia castle looks out over the mountain, the ocean and the sky. Much more than a castle, it is the lair of an astronomer and an explorer, Antoine d’Abbadie. In the 19th century, the renowned scientist had an atypical manor built on the Basque coast, pierced right through by windows and balconies. The house is a state-of-the-art observatory. “He will register his Irish origins there, (…) he locates it in Basque soil because he is Basque through his father, he will choose the excellent architect Eugéne Viollet-le-Duc, who will allow him to express all his theories, and in particular his taste for medieval buildings“, explains Céline Davadan, conservation officer for Château Abbadia.

Built in a neo-Gothic style, the building is populated by animals and gargoyles, dear to Viollet-le-Duc. The architect and the scientist gave free rein to their imagination. Upon entry, visitors are transported to Egypt, thanks to two crocodiles “which metaphorically illustrate d’Abbadie’s ascent of the Nile during his trip to Ethiopia“, adds Céline Davadan. Shields, buffalo horns, frescoes or even sculptures, all tell of the explorer’s trip to Africa, and his 11 years spent among the peoples of the Nile.”At the end of his life, he had mastered 14 languages“, adds the curator.

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