On our way to Guedelon, we stopped for the night at La Closeraie Hotel in Sully-Sur-Loire. When we arrived, the sun was setting, and the castle looked spectacular.
In the morning, we packed up and continued towards Guedelon.
During the planning of our trip, we viewed the brief documentary on the Guedelon Project. Guedelon is a newly built castle using medieval methods and technology. It celebrates and preserves the methods of another era, just like Jamestown in Virginia, Sturbridge Village, and Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.
Guedelon is distinguished by the fact that construction is ongoing and the partially completed building is there among the workshops of the craftspeople who are building it. Guedelon reportedly has had to slow construction recently to maintain the unfinished nature of the site which is so compelling to the visitor.
A number of things stood out to me during the visit:
First- the parking lots, massive and stretching out into the woods on all sides and full of cars. People from across Europe and the US were traveling to see this magnificent site. Apparently many more people than I thought have discovered this fascinating visit.
Second- the organization of the site and its orientation to the visitor. Everything seems to be planned around the onlookers; the café and restaurant, the facilities, the cart trails around the site, and the workshops with ongoing craft work everywhere.
The feel is close to what I had imagined it would be like to be on the construction site of a castle. The only thing I felt was missing was a more accurate sense of the reality that this is a first in military construction underway in an unforgiving world.
A few knights on horseback would help bring it home.
The overall sense is unpretentious and resistant to commercialization. Disney would most certainly not be welcome here, yet the books and other historical materials available for kids in Europe are generally far better than those in the US.
The craft work at Guedelon is first class. Stone and iron, ceramic, masonry, carpentry, basket making and so on.
There are also plenty of opportunities for a hands on taste for the young and the older. Luz could not resist the chance to carve a little stone…
Visit the Guedelon website here
The video below was taken by me. Notice how there are workers walking on the wheel to move the structure, while others direct the process.