hesadevil (hesadevil) wrote,


One of the places I've wanted to visit for quite a long time, is Camelot Pierrefonds. The BBC series 'Merlin' uses the castle as one of its locations. It's not far from St Quentin, on the road between Compiegne and Soissons.

Taken with mobile phone

The town is a little like Portmeirion in Wales, in that it is totally geared up for tourists. There is a variety of places to eat, from the lakeside gardens to the Auberge aux Bles D'or in which we had a fairly disasterous meal (that's a story that makes Basil Fawlty look positively super-efficient by comparison).The castle dominates the town. It was a pity that the weather prevented us exploring the park around the castle.

Taken on the climb up to the entrance

The tour of the Castle was a long one. It's impressive, given that it was built on the ruins of a much earlier castle at the request of Napoleon III, but disappointing in that its interior is used as a display space for art and sculpture from other regions of France and other epocs.

One of the many restored staircases

There is evidence of much restoration, both inside and out. Climbing the many flights of stone steps and loking down from the drawbridge 'control room'  reminded us that such castles were fortresses, built to repel would-be invaders.

Several restored interiors give some idea of the scale of the 'state' rooms. The grand hall, with its double fireplace has all the grandeur expected of an Emperor's 'holiday estate' in the Forest of Compiegne. The circular seating is one of the few remaining pieces of furniture from Viollet-le-Duc's  restoration.

Image from http://www.skyscrapercity.com

Inside, Viollet-le-Duc produced more a work of invention than
restoration. He imagined how the castle ought to
have been, rather than basing his work on the strict history of the
building. On the other hand, with the exterior he showed an excellent
knowledge of the military architecture of the 14th century

There was one glimpse of part of the Merlin set left in place for the film crew's next visit (just a few days after we were there). These town cottages are merely 'front elevations'

Pierrefonds may be worth a second visit when the weather is good enough to picnic in the park.

Tags: cruising log, cruising log 2012

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