Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pierrefonds, France -- the best kind of castle

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. 


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!


Annette T. Dodd said...

I became aware of Pierrefonds because it was in Merlin, and it's a castle I'd love to visit one day. Do watch the TV show - it's fab! :o)

Laura Green said...


Sandy said...

As soon as I saw the title of your post I thought "that's where Merlin was filmed!" such a pretty place. I loved the show in the beginning but I thought it went downhill with each season :/. Still it gave me lots of laughs.

Wolffie/Nancy Wolff said...

I'm lucky to live in France and have been to Pierrefonds twice -- I love Victorian Gothic too. And agree about Versailles, it was too much and not in the best way. You might really like Ch√Ęteau de Fontainebleau, I thought it had a lot going for it compared to Versailles. I live in Le Berry, now called Indre, and there are more chateaux down here than anywhere. Without crowds. Some are so eccentric, some are so beautiful, some are both. Thank you for your books, I love them.

Clique said...

Wow!! I wanna so much to travel to this place!!

Gisele said...

Incredible place! I want to visit one day!

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