From Paris to the Ardennes, we went by way of Pierrefonds Castle, about an hour, hour and a halfish northeast of Paris? If you watch the show Merlin, I guess it's filmed here? I haven't seen it, but now I want to. This place is gorgeous.
It has a cool history. Though originally built in the 12th-14th Centuries, it had become a picturesque ruin by the 19th. Then Napoleon III came along and hired architect Viollet-le-Duc to rebuild it. So what it basically is is a medieval castle reimagined in the 19th century, with theatrical flair.
THE BEST KIND OF CASTLE.
As an aside, we'd been to Versailles a few days earlier, and this might sounds appalling, but it really left us cold. For one thing: the crowds. But that's not all. It's just the style of the place, it's so symmetrical and elegant. Give me crenelations and gothic arches any day. This is my kind of castle.
Viollet-le-Duc was a full-service designer, and did up the interior too, as well as designing furniture. It was never completed, alas, because some pesky war came along and ended Napoleon III's emperorship.
There was a really cool exhibit of costumes and armor going on, and true to the spirit of the castle, they weren't genuine either, but were theatrical reimaginings of medieval and Renaissance costumes from various operas. Bonus for crazy imagination.
(Clementine must have taken this pic, as Jim and Alexandra and I are all in the background!)
The village at the foot of the castle is really stunning too. We were wishing we had a couple of days to linger and stroll to Compiegne through the woods and peddle boat on the lake and just enjoy the tranquility. Another time! But then, who knows? Maybe not. Because there are just SO MANY CASTLES AND BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE that we may not ever get back to this one, but just see as many as we can and STILL NEVER SEE THEM ALL.
Oh, and see the castle below? Just some other castle that somebody lives in. No big deal.
The town hall, with the castle in the background:
What's this? We must, you say? Well then, all right. If you insist.
if anyone's looking for a cool property with a castle view...
Village doggie says bye! Have a nice day!