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No. 207-209: A Château, Playing Dress up, and the Best Picnic Spot Ever

After living in France for a while, you sometimes begin to take for granted certain things that, to short-term visitors, seem exceptional. Warm crusty baguettes around every corner? Bien sûr! Stunning architecture? Tout à fait. World-class museums? Naturellement. Fairytale châteaux? Toutes sont les mêmes.

En fait, I started this blog to help me avoid becoming one of those jaded expat, and to instead, find the extraordinary every single day.

I was reminded of the crazy wonderfulness of this country yesterday as we got turned around on our drive through Aquitaine and strayed into the Limousin region. In France, one wrong turn, and the next thing you know, you may find yourself standing in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

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Château Rochefoucauld, une petite maison, is easily the most fun and friendly château we have ever stumbled across. As I mentioned, from the outside, it is all Disney, but on the inside, it is like an Italian palazzo with a magnificent courtyard that evokes Renaissance Italy. It is a château that has been in the family for over 1,000 years, and its spiral staircases, elegant rooms, and bursting libraries are still used by the 19th Duke Rochefoucauld and his young family. Not only are there family portraits painted by French masters lining the walls, there are also black and white photographs, glossy Polaroid’s and normal Kodak moment framed and displayed for all to see. It’s like the modern regal family went out for a stroll and left the doors unlocked to (un)wanted guests.

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There are lots of things to see and do at Château Rochefoucauld, from snaking through the strange cave in the basement, to touching the real roche, to pretending to cook up a royal feast in the original kitchens, to resting your weary head on the beds in the servants’ chilly rooms. But most fun of all, is an entire room dedicated to dress up clothes for all aspiring royals, the young and the old included. Think medieval kings and queens, wenches and jesters, mad hatters and knights. Once dressed, you are free to roam the entire castle, ramparts and all.

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After satisfying your theatrical bent and maybe, say, acting out a scene or two from the new princess movie Frozen, the caretakers are happy to let you picnic on the daisy-filled lawn just beyond the castle doors…with your dog!

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C’est bien extraordinaire…even for France.

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Vocabulaire

Bien sûr! Of course!

C’est bien extraordinaire: it’s (very) extraordinary

En fait: in fact

Naturellement: Naturally

Tout à fait: quite, absolutely

Toutes sont les mêmes. They’re all the same.

une petite maison: a small house

 

 

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Beth Allen #

    Beautiful!!

    April 17, 2014
  2. I love the costumes. What a beautiful setting for a day out for fun!

    April 17, 2014
    • “twas fun to pretend to be part of a the royal court for a few hours, and in such a beautiful setting. I loved that this château had such a lived in feeling.

      April 17, 2014
  3. Melissa #

    I want to be there. What fun! Your pictures are always amazing.

    April 17, 2014
    • Thanks, Sis. It is a perfect spot for the cousins to put on a play…maybe we should gather them all for a family reunion?

      April 17, 2014
  4. Love this! What a wonderful excursion – Thanks Nancy.

    April 17, 2014
  5. andreaoffner #

    What a fantastic excursion! I especially like the costumes, of course!

    April 17, 2014
  6. So cool!

    April 18, 2014
  7. Hélène Goble #

    I think this is one of your best! I saw this chateau but never visited it. Thank you so much for transmitting those great photos, historical features and lovely family moments. I love your new outfit! Does suit you.
    Lots love
    Helene

    Sent from my iPhone

    April 18, 2014
    • Merci Héléne. Should I wear the princess costume to the next wine event? We are in love with Bordeaux and the area. I want to spend my next 365 days here! More post to come. Thanks for all the great tips et joyeuse Pâques mon amie. x

      April 20, 2014
  8. Fabulous post!
    Love the photos, want to go and paint walls and panelling with leaves and scrolls now ( to be frank I have been fighting this urge for a while)
    Thanks particularly for the “French Country Kitchen” inspiration photo, fits well with my current preoccupations…

    April 19, 2014
    • Thanks. You should take the little ones to visit. They definitely won’t be saying, “not another boring château” after they get to play dress up.

      You seem like you have been very busy lately. Bon courage!

      April 20, 2014

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