Going Medieval: Chateauneuf-en-Auxois

We visited Chateauneuf-en-Auxois because we always liked the gorgeous view of the castle from the toll road.

We went there on Fete National – July 14th, which the French do not like people to call Bastille Day — and we feared things might be closed for this important national holiday.  We tried to find a restaurant for lunch on the way there through the small towns of the countryside and they were all closed.  (our GPS identified things like restaurants and gas stations as well as plotting routes — a magic devise we had not requested with our rental but happened to be on the car we received;  we grew to love it as it guided us through lanes and byways)  We had rather stupidly not packed a picnic as we usually do for such trips and had visions of being very very hungry.

Things looked up when we entered the town walls of Chateauneuf. We immediately spotted a small restaurant which served up excellent food — Ed had pate and salad — I had a  ham and egg crepe.  And on the way back out, we stopped for some really good ice cream;  I had a scoop of  salt caramel ice cream and one of pear sorbet; Ed had coffee. Very good food and excellent friendly service.  Note the bottle of water on the table.  One of the great secrets of keeping costs down in France is ordering a carafe of water with  meals;  it is free, perfectly tasty  and the locals do it routinely while tourists are ordering expensive bottled water.

The town like most tourist oriented medieval villages is filled with flowers and charm,

but the castle makes the town special.Just as the view of the castle from the road is stunning — the view back down to the Burgundy countryside from the chateau is also magnificent.  This snapshot of the Burgundy Canal is through the thick windows of the castle.This chateau really feels like a castle.  Rapunzel could live here.

Like many chateaux in France great damage was done during the revolution but there is still much to see.

Here is the ruined keep.

The spiral staircase in the keep was destroyed but you can still see the anchors in the walls.

The earliest parts of the castle date from the 12th century when it was built for Jean I de Chateauneuf.  Fortifications were added over the next centuries and it stayed in this family until 1456 when the last heir Catherine de Chateauneuf was executed for poisoning her husband.  After the execution the Duke of Burgundy gave the castle to his adviser Phillipe Pot whose tomb is in the chapel.

At this time the chateau was remodeled to provide more comfortable living quarters than afforded by the old fortress and those are still evident.  Here is the entry hall and fireplace; the coat of arms of the family was defaced here as they were all over France during the revolution.

The rooms give an idea of what it must have been like to live in an old castle like this; they are much less elaborate and comfortable than many chateaux built primarily as residences during this time.  Here is a view of a bedroom and the en suite garderobe in  another nearby bedroom.

Like most small French towns Chateauneuf has a memorial honoring town citizens lost in the Great War, WWII and includes in that number people lost in the resistance as well as murdered in the German camps.  This memorial is particularly touching as the soldier figure is so obviously a boy in his late teens.  Ed wrote about this in another venue:  http://firedoglake.com/2010/07/18/some-people-wont-die-for-the-political-and-economic-elite/

We had a great Fete National in Chateauneuf-en-Auxois.

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3 Responses to Going Medieval: Chateauneuf-en-Auxois

  1. Kate says:

    After reading about the terrible fate of the guy with the gorgeous gardens I doubt Catherine really poisoned her husband – I bet those charges were trumped up to give the chateau to the duke’s pal.

    Also, Jonathan admires the cool messenger bags on the arms of the guys in the tomb. He’s thinking the one with shells on indicates a pilgrim on the Santiago.

    As ever, great pictures of Dad and lovely architecture!

  2. Janet says:

    I didn’t notice that those shield like things were in fact carrier bags. Good catch on the shells. Now I want one.

  3. Janet says:

    Oh and Kate — you are way out of line suggesting that Catherine might have been burned at the stake just because the Duke wanted to be able to give away the castle to his good buddy Phillipe Pot — the Duke was Philip the Good of Burgundy — the GOOD — couldn’t have happened.

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