The origin of the name ‘Gensac’ apparently comes from the town’s latin motto Gens acutat tenet, which can be translated as ‘people who resist’ or ‘people who have courage’.
The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as evidenced by archaeological discoveries in the region. During the Roman era, the area was under Roman control, and several Roman artifacts have been found in the vicinity. In the Middle Ages, Gensac became an important stronghold due to its strategic location overlooking the Dordogne River.
Eleanor of Aquitaine brought the lands of Aquitaine into the hands of the English on her marriage to the future Henry II in 1152. As part of a general process of fortification of the area against incursions by the French, a citadel and village was constructed at Gensac. The town remained in the hands of the English until the battle of Castillon in 1453, which brought the ‘Hundred Years War’ to an end.
During the 16th century, Gensac experienced a period of prosperity due to the flourishing wine trade in the region. The town became a center for viticulture and wine production. Many of the charming buildings and houses that still exist today in Gensac date back to this period.
Gensac continued to evolve throughout the centuries, witnessing various historical events and societal changes. The village went through periods of prosperity and decline, influenced by factors such as wars, economic fluctuations, and changes in agricultural practices.
There are a number of important local buildings, including the church, which was built of stone in the 19th century. The town had had two previous churches, both constructed in wood and which had burnt down.
The shape of Les Remparts has seen little change since 1837 when it was shown as two plots on the land register, with a Maison de Maître to the west (Unit 3), accessed from Rue du Chateau, and another building directly behind it with access from Rue du Couvent (unit 2), each with their own staircase; only Unit 6 has been added in the recent past. The Maison de Maître was probably the last building to be added (before 1837) and in order to construct a pitched roof, the central wall, M4 was increased in height. The oldest external walls are 1,2,3,4 & 9 and possibly all date back to the Middle Ages. M2 was originally the internal wall of a building on the east side (in the garden of 16, Rue du Chateau) and most likely extended south across Rue du Couvent. The wall contains back to back bookcases and the sink is too far into the corner adjacent to Rue du Couvent.
Unit 4 was an attic/ store. In the first half of the twentieth century the north side of Unit 4 downstairs was one large space containing a small room housing twin sit down toilets (!) and a staircase to the upstairs, undivided except for a small room in the south east corner. Unit 4 also contained a deep well in the north east corner. The upstairs of Unit 4 was used to form a restaurant from 1961 and a grand medieval fireplace purchased from a ruined chateau and renovated in Rue du Couvent was added. The windows to the restaurant were enlarged in 1975. In 1989 the north side of Unit 4 downstairs was converted to become the Hotel reception with guests entering from the west side to check in and departing from the east side to access the hotel bedrooms.
Les Remparts changed hands in 1956 and the new owners started a restaurant and a patisserie, making significant changes to the interior and exterior of Les Remparts on the back of a successful enterprise. They created parking for the thriving restaurant in 1974 by agreeing with the Mayor that all waste material from the introduction of a telephone system to Gensac would be dumped in the front garden to form a mound; this partially concealed the walls of the remparts. They opened up walls into Unit 4 from Unit 3, wall M8, to move the kitchen for the Maison de Maître and this space was subsequently converted into a patisserie. They made a large opening into Unit 4 from Unit 2, wall M5, to allow for access to what would become the restaurant kitchen and patisserie kitchen. Previously the downstairs of Unit 2 had been use to accommodate workers and was only accessible from the entrance in Rue du Couvent. They made a small door through from the western side of Unit 2 (downstairs) into a toilet in the hall of Unit 3, enabling access to the Hall by virtue of the Hall having access to the same toilet located under the staircase.
Between 1987-89 another family ran the restaurant which was then sold in 1989 and the same buyer also bought the Maison de Maître (Unit 3) in 1999. The new owner made an opening in wall M4 upstairs from the landing area to access the two rear eastern bedrooms without needing to use the wooden staircase next to the kitchen. The building opposite the church had been the home of the parish priest and was a presbytery until it was acquired by the Commune and also let to the new owner who turned it into a hotel around 1989. Les Remparts changed hands again in 2005 and the new owners continued to run the restaurant and rent the old presbytery from the Commune for operation as a hotel.
With only a few bedrooms and in a poor state of repair, the presbytery was finally sold by the Commune in 2015 for use as a family home. In 2016 Les Remparts was also privately sold and renovated to create the wonderful property that exists today. The stone staircase and arch was added, the woodwork and stone walls restored and all of the services and systems replaced and improved. The following report commissioned for Batiment de France before renovation work commenced may be found here