The weather had been fabulous for the last three days but as the Gods would decide the day we picked to visit Guedelon it was wet and gloomy. We set off on the drive with the Sat Nav barking out instructions.
Eventually we saw the sign for Guedelon Castle, so we left the main road ( well it was wide enough for two cars to pass) we then followed a wooded road until the Sat Nav announced we had reached the end of the driveable route.
Our first view of Guedelon. Suddenly we were not fussed about the rain and chill temperature . We had been magically moved back in time to the 13th century! Can you see Vlad sitting in the Pilory.
We were a tad disappointed because we had been told, and the leaflets indicated that we could have a guided tour with an English speaking guide but when we asked at the entrance we were told in no uncertain terms, “No there are only french speaking guides!”
So we went into the information hall and watched the film about conception of an idea and the building of the castle. It was also in french but at least it had English subtitles. Now I can get by with my version of French , as long as people speak slowly. In truth I can understand the language much better than I can speak it! ….. We enjoyed the film and the fire! The castle was started in 1996 …..finished? not yet by a long way.
After the film, where to start , at the beginning!
We walked around the outside of the building site first and found many out buildings, like a forge, a basket weaving house, and many other buildings plus the place where they were keeping their slate and stone. There was a tavern, and also some huts,plus a place for sheep, pigs, a donkey ,a huge shire horse who was working despite the rain and some large geese running riot or should I say loose.
Everything used on site was made in the way it was when a castle like would of been built! The clothes, the pottery, the tools, the baskets,jewellery,food,everything! The only concession to the 21st century was that the workers had to wear safety hats and boots while working on site.
Not all the workers wore their hats but they all had their boots on but this young lady wore both her hard hat hidden under some sacking to look like a hood, and her boots under her flowing robes. I was glad to see her safety gear as she was sending huge blocks of stone up to the masons working on the round tower.
above you can see her well hidden safety gear and below you can see why she needed it!
Look at the size of those stones and the height of the tower. All the scaffolding and wheels are made of wood it is just so amazingly interesting .
We had been there about half an hour when they all stopped for their two hour lunch . Well this is France and everything stops ( except the restaurants and bars of course) between 12noon and 2/2.30pm! Whether or not this happened in 13th century France I cannot say but it certainly does today!
workers off to lunch!
This was the cook house complete with the cauldron outside and two workers waiting for medieval food! Have a look at all the wooden utensils hanging on outside of the building!
So we continued our look around the castle while it was quieter, as it was still raining we went inside .
What beauty and surprises we were met with.
As you can see the inside is beginning to look magnificent, from the cellers up through the main hall ! The huge kitchen, fireplaces and deeply thick walls with arrow slant windows . Not to mention circular winding stone steps between floors and up the towers!
The beautiful art on the walls is authentic too in design and the way the paint is made!
We found it really fascinating how the stone masons all worked together each busy in their own task , they were oblivious to us! We were still very miffed that we could not have an English speaking guide, I did my best to listen and translate to hubby but it was not the same as having a guide. I assume they only have guides speaking other languages on site in their high season ….a fact that the guidebooks omit!
Shame as it was that we could not ask the stone mason many questions it was still very interesting.
Next we wondered across to some of the out buildings we found where the tiles were made and how they decorated some of them by pressing leaves and lichen on to them with great effect. Vlad insisted that we took his photo with the tiles …I think he was trying to claim that they were his creation.
We met a really nice lady from Australia who was touring Europe, she was as fascinated by it all as we were. She told us she had see many places but this was up there with the best!
We were very impress at the pottery too, third photo at the top of the above. Then there was the wood yard and some men discussing a roof, and a woman who was filing something, I could not see what… it looked very painstaking. She was standing there just filing slowly ..no power, no treadle just metal against stone!
As we were making our way along the outside of the settlement we met the working horse and the geese! I have to admit I was a little unsure of both geese and horse. Luckily the geese were following the horse for food and the horse was very gentle.
We had taken a picnic lunch but again we were disappointed as no picnic were allowed, there were a couple of “restaurants and bars ” but a plethora of signs saying no picnics, these unlike the guides, were also in English! There was to be fair two picnic areas outside of the site but unfortunately they were packed to the rafters with school children , obviously on a school trip from local schools.
We had had a great trip marred only slightly by there being no English guides to explain in depth what was going …. we would of been happy to pay extra for that. Also the fact that we could not have our picnic , we are English and we love a picnic even in the rain!
So we went back to the gite and had a picnic there.
On the whole we would definitely recommend visiting Guedelon but make sure you know whether or not you can have a guide who speaks your language. Picnics can be tricky if there are several school trips going on! You don’t need a guide as we thoroughly enjoyed our visit but it would of been the icing on the cake.
In all a lovely day and a step back in time! I have just read this post before posting and noticed that I have mentioned the fact that there no non french guides…. sorry if I went on about that. Do click on any of the photos for a better view.