In France, there are so many chateaux, ruins, historic sites, and monuments that after a while they can become a blur. After a few days travelling in the Canadian Rockies with my cousin when I was 14, we finally said, “You’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all”. On my last trip to France my friend Judy and I saw 11 chateaux in one week.
So how does one enjoy seeing the chateaux of France day after day and not become numb and succumb to chateaux overload? Although there are many ways to avoid this, such as taking an audio tour, here’s my best piece of advice: attend a medieval festival.
Try to time your visit for when the chateau or site is having a festival. It can make the visit and experience much more memorable and interesting. It can be entertaining and educational and will give you some context to what life might have been like when the chateau was first built. France has its fair share of festivals of all types but the medieval festivals often provide the most variety: jousting, sword fighting, dramatizations, performances and displays
Here are some pictures and comments about two medieval festivals I attended:
Les Medievales de Baux
Chateau des Baux was a fortified castle built in the 10th century in the commune of Les Baux-de-Provence in the Bouche-du-Rhone department of Provence. Many family feuds and wars were fought here until the mid 1600s when Louis XIII had the castle taken down.
Today some of the fortress remains but not much is left. To be quite frank, after walking around a bit it gets boring so having a medieval festival going on helps you see what life might have been like back then and makes the visit much more enjoyable.
Although their website Chateau Baux Provence states that the medieval festival takes place every weekend in September, I was there in August and the festival was in full force. There were catapults, crossbows, and reenactments of fights between knights in armour. It was great for adults and children.
Chateau de Saumur
Chateau de Saumur is located in the Loire Valley and was built at the end of the 11th century initially as a fortress. In 2007 restorations were completed to fix many parts of the chateau including the north wall which had collapsed. When I visited there were exhibits and reenactments everywhere, including maidens sword fighting and jousting.
Website: Chateau de Saumur