At the top of my list of places to visit next time in France, is Guédelon in the Yonne. I last visited this reconstruction of a 13th Century Château fort (or Fortress Castle), in 2009 and it has much progressed since then, as you will see later.  So, back to my visit…  At first impression, I was struck by the warmth of the earth and stone at the site, a gorgeous ochre colour. This already was a place of beauty.

Guédelon way back in 2009 – much has changed.

‘La vannerie’ or basket-making, Guédelon.








Then there was the scale of the project.  They are not only building a castle, but a whole village along with all the machinery, implements, fabrics and other items that would have been necessary at the time! I particularly loved seeing how craftspeople would have dyed wool back then, hence the photo.

Wool with natural dye.

What makes Guédelon especially incredible is that the materials and techniques of the 13th Century are being used. What these building methods are and how the knowledge is acquired to carry them out is a mystery to many of us.  However, through the wealth of information on the Guédelon website and Facebook page, we can learn much.

My inspiration for writing this post arrived when learning that Guédelon (open March to November), had begun to release fun and informative videos ‘Les Feux de Guédelon’ to be continued throughout the winter, to let us know what is happening on site.  They are captivating for those with even a hint of interest in medieval living and are also great language practice. French is spoken and good subtitling is provided in English. Listen out for advanced vocabulary such as ‘jaunâtre’ (yellowish), ‘la vannerie’ (basketwork) and ‘la voûte’ (vault). To give you an idea of the content of the series, the first clip looks at how a lime kiln has been built (in the next they will light it!) and asks the question as to whether windows were glazed in the 13th Century… The answer is perhaps surprising.

Loved these pigs!

Have you been to Guédelon? Or maybe a similar reconstruction in France or elsewhere? Do tell us about it.