Chateau and distillery
During the 1870s, Joseph Ollanier was the owner of a company making eau-de-vie spirits in the Charente Maritime department of France. He met Eugène DURAS who was creating his own brand of cognac brandy and Eugène subsequently married Joseph’s daughter, Fleurestine.
Sadly, Joseph died in 1885 and his son André took over from his father in the eau-de-vie business. With the French vines blighted by phylloxera (a sap-sucking insect that feeds on grapevines) André took the business to Algeria and created a distillery in a town formerly known as Perregaux.
Suddenly rich, André had a distillery and a grand house in the style of a château built on a 6-hectare plot known as “Mine-Argent” to the south of Aulnay de Saintonge (about 40 minutes north of Cognac).
Unfortunately, André’s business then failed when he was unable to bring his eau-de-vie from Algeria back to France because of the laws of controlled provenance. He had borrowed a huge sum of money from his brother-in-law, Eugène DURAS, so André partly paid him back by giving Eugène the château and distillery now known as Minargent.
It is believed that between 1870-1880 Mr & Mrs Eugène DURAS and Mr & Mrs François DURAS were living together in Cognac, in the department of Charente in the southwest of France. They used the Château de Minargent as their summer residence.
Since then the château has undergone many incarnations: it has been the home of the local swimming pool; a girls’ school; a hotel and even apartments. Luckily now it is has been a restored to its former glory with the benefit of modern luxuries.
The last owners of the château had converted it into separate apartments so the present owners set about restoring the rooms to their original proportions.