Being rather occupied for various reasons at the moment, I’ll just share with you some shots of Belcastel in the Aveyron Département. I took these during les journées du patrimoine recently when, for once, we decided to be tourists in our own region. I’ve written about Belcastel before and won’t repeat that. But this time we went inside the château, which dominates the village. Don’t forget I will provide the answer to last week’s conundrum on 30th September.
The village itself is built on a steep hill that slopes down to the stripling Aveyron below. As you can see, there’s not much water in the river just now.
The château was just a ruin in the 1970s when French architect Fernand Pouillon bought it up and restored it to its former glory. It took him 12 years to do it and must have been a labour of love. We saw a photo of it in its pre-restoration state and felt you would have needed some imagination (and not a little dosh) to take on a project like that.
The privately-owned château is also an art gallery with temporary exhibitions (which we weren’t allowed to photograph). In addition, it boasts a fine collection of medieval armour – if that sort of thing interests you. I have to say it’s not my thing but it is very well displayed. Alas, the alarm system is so sensitive that even moving within a metre of the exhibits kept setting the alarm off – irresistible for some of the children visiting that day.
The château is smaller inside than it looks from the outside and is a warren of staircases, rooms and walkways. Along one of the walkways behind the battlements, we saw this meurtrière, from which they unleashed missiles in bygone days.
Even if you were a noble in medieval times, life wasn’t as comfy as it is today. The original privy overhangs a vertiginous drop and is open to the elements in sensitive places. Not somewhere you’d want to linger on a winter’s day.
Finally, tucked into a corner between two massive walls, we found this unusual birdbox. Unusual in two respects: first, it’s made in stone; second, it would be easy for cats and other marauding animals to gain access. However, it had clearly been occupied, judging by the nesting material inside.
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