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Barely ten minutes’ walk southeast of the town centre loom the fabulous turrets of Château d’Aigle. Ranged beneath is an attractive little quarter of old houses, among which lies the ancient Église St-Maurice or Église du Cloître, founded in 1143 and renovated over the centuries in a mixture of styles.
Atmospheric cobbled lanes wind up from here to the château (July & Aug daily 10am–6pm; April–June & Sept–Oct Tues–Sun 10am–noon & 2–6pm; last entry one hour before closing;www.swisscastles.ch/vaud/aigle). The main castle building houses the Musée de la Vigne et du Vin (Vine and Wine Museum; Fr.7; SMP); opposite the gates, in the stout Maison de la Dîme, is the Musée de l’Étiquette (Wine-Labels Museum; Fr.4; SMP) – a combined entry ticket for both museums is Fr.9.
The château is an impressive example of medieval castle building, founded and expanded by the advancing Savoyards in the thirteenth century. The Bernese burnt the place to the ground in 1475, rebuilding and redesigning it to serve both a defensive function on the fringes of Bernese power and as a residence for the installed bailiffs. Following the Vaudois revolution of 1798, the castle reverted to local hands, and remained the town’s prison right up until 1972, when nobody could be found to take on the job of jailer and so all the resident convicts had to be transferred to Vevey. As you enter, you’re given a follow-the-numbers pamphlet, which leads you through the various rooms around the courtyard which house the permanent and temporary exhibits of the Musée de la Vigne et du Vin. Look out for the old shop signs in the vestibule of the main dwelling (room 9) and the mighty barrels and winepress in the cellar below (room 10). The ramparts walk is especially spectacular, with frescoes in the various watchtowers and romantic views out over the sea of vines all around. The Musée de l’Étiquette opposite the castle gates is, by necessity, a rather sedate affair, with the generally very ornate labels from bottles around the world displayed on placards in a grand, wood-beamed attic.
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