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Water flowing underground
same as it ever was
24th-Jun-2012 04:02 pm
cruising log

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.

24th-Jun-2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
Viollet-le-Duc was pretty much a disaster to most places he "restored" - he would have fitted beautifully into the Disney design team! Pretty pictures, though.
25th-Jun-2012 07:31 am (UTC)
He gave us a wonderful Camelot though.

Pierrfonds is amazing.
24th-Jun-2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
It certainly looks very pretty there. I'm curious about the meal disaster now.
25th-Jun-2012 07:34 am (UTC)
It's an amazing place.

The meal was so Basil Fawlty. There were only two tables occupied yet it took almost an hour for food to arrive. MWNN ordered a started which never appeared. The waiter ( a very beautiful Greek God who fancied himself as a tortured poet) gave us each other's order and, when the bill arrivec, we'd been charged for the full set lunch. So very untypical of Auberge standards of service.
25th-Jun-2012 11:39 am (UTC)
He was obviously distracted by his refelection. :)
24th-Jun-2012 03:51 pm (UTC)
Wow! Stunning!
25th-Jun-2012 07:37 am (UTC)
It's an amazing place that needs more than an hour's visit. The dog was in the car and we couldn't be sure that the sun wasn't appearing while we were inside so we rather rushed the tour. Happily, the car was in the shade of some carefully pollarded trees. Just as we got back to the car and prepared to walk the gounds, the storm struck.
24th-Jun-2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
That is a very, very, pretty castle.
25th-Jun-2012 07:38 am (UTC)
It is indeed and needs at least a whole day of exploration.
24th-Jun-2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
I've seen pictures of Pierrefonds before but these are lovely. It does look an amazing place. Many thanks for sharing :)
25th-Jun-2012 07:40 am (UTC)
It's truly amazing. I'm only too pleased to share the pics. I posted this for your birthday but was a day early. Happy birthday for today.

Edited at 2012-06-25 07:40 (UTC)
25th-Jun-2012 07:55 am (UTC)
Ahh, thank you so much ♥

Amazingly enough it's sunny, which doesn't often happen on my birthday so we're off to the seaside :)
25th-Jun-2012 08:00 am (UTC)
Oooh, have a great day.

I love the seaside. Which seaside?
26th-Jun-2012 10:12 am (UTC)
We went to Littlehampton which was very peaceful and traditional. There's a lovely beach side cafe there we had fish and chips. It was a lovely day :)
24th-Jun-2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
Great pictures! I love the exterior and the interior staircase. A true castle!
25th-Jun-2012 07:42 am (UTC)
Thanks. I couldn't get far enough back to capture the whole of the staircase. It's a spiral - in stone. The whole castle is truly amazing. Each tower has a name, one of which is Arturus.
24th-Jun-2012 05:23 pm (UTC)
Very impressive.
25th-Jun-2012 07:42 am (UTC)
It is.
26th-Jun-2012 03:10 pm (UTC)
Wonderful pics!
26th-Jun-2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's a very photogenic place.

Love your icon.
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