Horse pulling cart with workers at Guédelon
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Guédelon is About Building a Fortified Castle

Horse pulling cart with workers at GuédelonWe headed down for a weekend visit with friends in Ravière. On the way, between Burgundy and the Loire Valley lies the region of Guédelon (gay-de-lone), “a land full of tastes, color, culture and literature, history and memories.” We had visited Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye and the pottery museum a few years ago. This time, I found there is more to this region for families and even adults without children than I never knew existed.

A place my husband always wanted to visit was the building site of Guédelon. Often when visiting fortified castles, they have been standing since the thirteenth century in various shades of disrepair or renovation. If you have never seen a fortified castle being built from the ground up with all the historical materials made on site, Guédelon is a monument in the making.

Did you know that mortar from the thirteenth century does not resemble the same mortar used in the twentieth century?  Our guide, one of the builders, said an expert made an observation early on in the building process. The expert noticed the ingredients for the mortar being used was incorrect. They took samplings, dissected the mortar contents from a period chateau of similar quality. They had to redo the walls.Map of Guédelon site for the visit

Did you know that a fortified residence usually housed only twenty people: a lord and his family, servants, guards and their families? And the whole family slept in a tower (Tour maîtresse)? Everything had to be constructed with available materials of the region; and that is what is happening here.

In a former quarry, Guédelon, a thirteenth century fortified castle is being built from the ground up. The first stone was laid in 1998. Michel Guyot, owner and restorer of Saint Fargeau Castle in Yonne, is the man behind this “idée folle” (wild idea).

(Set the YouTube video settings to 720p/HD) The work is expected to continue on the fortress until 2026. You are asked to imagine the world is in 1229. It is the MiddleMap of châtelet between two tours and fortress Ages and our nobleman is  Guilbert, a low-ranking nobleman; a vassal to Jean de Toucy, who is a vassal to the King of France, Louis IX, during a period of peace and stability. In 1229, hundreds of workers built a fortified château within eight years. Due to inflation and the salaries, the thirty-five novices, masons and other workers will take about twenty six or more years to complete this château. The show will go on …..

Visit their website if you or your children have any interest in castle building to watch the recreation using construction techniques of the 1200s. The site changes every day. If you visited five years ago, you wouldn’t recognize the site. What we saw on this visit will be completely surpassed at our next visit. The first year Guédelon opened, they had 25,000 visitors. As of 2013, over 300,000 visitors a year are buying tickets. Entry fees and gift shop purchases are financing the salaries for fifty to seventy employees (of whom at least thirty-five work on the building site) and the construction.

Map of the Guédelon region from the regional websiteGuédelon is about two and a half hours from Paris. Some books in English about Guédelon are available in the gift shop. It is the départment of Yonne in northwest Burgundy between the villages of Saint-Saveur-en-Puisay and Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye (an area rich in sandstone clay making it a pottery “argile gréseuse” center).
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This Web site and and its blog articles are for travelers to Paris who are looking for advice from someone who lives in Paris. These tips are "for Parisians at heart". Many people would like to visit, some can and some cannot - so I will help you enjoy a glimpse of the city and its surroundings. This project has been ongoing since 2002. Prior to living in Paris (since 1992) my European history began in the early 70s with three years in Wiesbaden, Germany. My next foray onto the Continent was in the mid-80s after graduation from the University of Florida (where I met Erik): traveling around Europe and UK with my friend, Margie, hitchhiking around and working in Ireland. After living and working as a journalist in Sweden for four years, traveling on boats, the Trans-Siberian Railway, local trains and planes took Erik and I around the world. I began working as a flight attendant in 1990 for American Airlines, based in Chicago. We moved to Paris, France in 1992 where I commuted between Paris and Chicago for my flight attendant/stewardess job. Finally my inner voice said "Stop!" and I left American Airlines six weeks shy of 20 years January 1, 2010. Now that is over and I am back working as a journalist and photographer full time on - My videos are posted on YouTube on the colleensparis youtube channel. and I am active in Toastmasters 75. Enjoy!