Thoughts from France. Guedelon, Burgandy

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.

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After the  film, where  to start , at  the beginning!

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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.

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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!

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workers off  to lunch!

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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.

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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.

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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.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gigoid
    Oct 17, 2016 @ 13:51:10

    Fascinating day, and a wonderful post… Nicely done; made me want to go see it, for sure….

    gigoid

    Reply

  2. Martin Shone
    Oct 17, 2016 @ 17:34:25

    Fascinating, Willow, A thing I would like to see along with the medieval town called Dinan in Brittany. One year I’ll get to France🙂

    Reply

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