Winding staircases, towers and caves accompanied our visit to Le Château de Commarque. After exiting the bus, our group descended into an open and green valley with what was left of a magnificent stone structure into view. The building had many tours and small caves lined its base. Soon we began our tour and climbed up the stairs to the château. First we entered one of the small cave homes that were found around the bottom of the castle. The small cave contained pottery, kitchenware, small rooms for storage, livestock and what looked like a bed. I was surprised about how chilly it was inside of the rock shelter.
We continued up the hill and the guide told us about the six towers that were occupied by six different families. It was interesting to me that they all lived on the same hill because it’s easier to protect yourself in a group, despite their large family rivalries that continues to exist even today. Even more shocking to me was that even though these families spent a lot of their wealth to build these tall incredible towers, the families rarely entered these towers. Because the only entrance was an impossible and risky staircase, it not only made it nearly impossible for their enemies to enter, but it also prevented them from going into their own towers. It was just a symbol of their pride and wealth.
One of my favorite parts of our visit to le château was the view from the top of the Beynac tower. The over 150 steps through a tight spiral staircase to the top was definitely worth it. We could see rolling green hills dotted with other small castles. The visit to Le Château de Commarque was a great and memorable experience. I would say it was one of my favorites, but I feel like on this trip, every single experience has been a favorite.
I got lots of great information and photos for my project in France. My project is the comparison of urban palaces with their rural couterparts, the châteaux. My final project will hopefully be an essay accompanied by some of my own photos.
On the first day in Paris, we went on a walking tour and saw the Conciergerie, a palace that was also used as a prison that housed Marie Antoinette before she was executed.
The MAN, to which we repatriated the Piette pebble, is housed in a gorgeous building called “le château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye”. It was originally built in 1122 by Louis VI as a fortress and completed by Louis IX.
In 1863, Eugène Millet converted it into a renaissance palace, and it was renovated again in 1962. The castle was initially built in the middle of a forest on the plateau of Laye as a military stronghold, but eventually became a residential building with a surrounding town.
We also visited the Palace of Versailles, which is a ginormous building. The palace had its beginnings as a hunting lodge (albeit a very fancy one) built by Louis XIII. Succeeding rulers added onto the original construction and made it into the distinctive palace it is known as today. It has been used by numerous powers in France as a headquarters or residence. When Louis XIII first built the hunting lodge, Versailles was only a small village. Under the French monarchs, the lodge became a large palace, and the Versailles became a city. Another urban palace we got the opportunity to explore was the Louvre. Although it originally was a fortress, it was rebuilt and expanded many times and became enveloped by the city. I found it interesting that le château de Saint-Germain, Versailles, and the Louvre all originated with some other purpose, but over time became palaces.
When we went into the Loire Valley we visited a few rural castles including the château d’Amboise and château de Chenonceau.
I have numerous great photos of the palaces and châteaux, so now my work is researching the two types of buildings. When we visited them, most offered pamphlets that gave brief histories. I need to do a lot of research to be able to do more comparison. I want to focus on the difference in the purpose and usage of the buildings.