Le chai is a local word for an out-building, barn or storage area. During the early life of the Chateau this chai was used for making Pineau, a local drink based on a mixture of wine and cognac and similar in consistency to sherry.
Although there was doubtless some kind of stone out-building here during the 1700’s and earlier, this building was erected at the same time as the Chateau in 1848.
It is interesting to look at the ceiling beams as you can see that each one is an individual tree and would have been cut with an adze – you can see this from the marks on the beams. All of the floorboards were sawn by hand, using almost certainly a sawpit. Did you know that this is where we get our English expression “top dog”, because the man in the bottom of the sawpit had a rotten job for all the sawdust fell down into his eyes, whereas the man on top was…well, the top dog! The French expression equivalent to this is le coq vainguer.
The staircase dates from 1840 or so and was removed from an old farmhouse in the nearby town of St Savinien. Part of the window of the old cottage next door (which dates from as early as 1600) is visible in the wall by the sink.
It is worth appreciating that the walls of these ancient buildings were built merely of stones and mud. They’ve certainly stood the test of time.