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Published: August 27th 2019
A great restoration project
I was doing some Spanish this morning when today’s itinerary was outlined, so it was a surprise to me when we started to drive up a steep mountain.
Today is Luxembourg day but it’s not without detours. We were half way up Stophanberch Mountain when I looked up from my novel when I asked
Where are we headed?
What started out as a novel, after leaving it on the dashboard of the car in the heat when we visited Freiburg, was reduced to the equivalent of pamphlets.The glue had broken down and each page came away as I turned it. I finished it as we approached Luxembourg so it stays here.
Anyway, where are we headed?
The most prominent castle in the district, it covers 1.5 hectares and is built from pink sandstone.It was constructed in 3 stages between the 12th and mid 15th centuries , with alterations done in 1479 to allow for artillery and increase the defensive towers.
We parked well down the hill and the heat was building as we climbed to the Castle.
Tourists stood analysing brochures and guidebooks, trying to work out what they’re looking at.
The kiosk at the lookout was doing a brisk trade in ice creams and soft drinks, and a cold beer was never far away. Three French gendarmes stood chatting, assault rifles at the ready, but really, it must be one of the sweetest shifts for the police. Nothing to see here officer; keep chatting.
It’s been a busy three days and Tim seems to think if you just hang out, you’re wasting time. We’re all feeling tired and the stairs to the top of the towers didn’t seem welcoming. Each level was restored faithfully to the original, and the architect who designed and supervised the work was also an enthusiastic expert on the Middle Ages and fortifications. Many items found onsite gave clues to its origins, and old pictures and images, plus researching styles in nearby castles, produced a restoration that is true to the original.
This is a self sufficient castle with internal vegetable gardens and 2 or 3 wells supplying water. The magnitude of the original building job, sourcing materials, working on natural uneven stone fountains is not lost on me, and even the current crew working today would have difficulties.
As we left, the
crowds were ridiculous, with buses competing with cars and motorcycles for parking and the peaceful uncrowded tour we had a mere dream now.
I’m glad we visited. The building is a clean, soft sandstone colour, the route through the castle well defined, and an hour sees you out of there.
After seeing a few castles they can begin to look similar, and most are ruins, whereas this one showed life as it really was.
We were back on the road, I read my book, and only glanced up when we turned a corner. Nancy was our last stop, and our lunch stop, before the final push to Luxembourg.
For some reason I had a particular Victorian regional city in mind when I learnt Nancy was to be the lunch break; how wrong you can be. I’m too embarrassed to name the city.
We parked on the street leading up to Place Stanislaus , the main plaza designed in the neoclassical French style, framed by decorative golden wrought iron gateways at every entry to the square and pale stone buildings decorated in golden metal lacework. The entry leading to the magnificent cool La Pépiniére gardens and
zoo hosts a delicate looking fountain tucked in the corner of the Plaza.
Place Stanislau is probably the most stunning plaza I’ve visited. It has a regal air about it and in the 1750’s people in fine clothes would enter on carriages , or sneak in by a side entrance for a rendezvous. The poor would be there and possibly vendors cooking food from makeshift stoves, trying to eke out a living. There would certainly be a military presence and only a few decades later the working class and poor would ruse up against the inequalities so obvious in French society, and France would never be the same.
Our 10 days in France have been a broad look at French society, and the hardships and conflicts that helped shape it. It’s a country where industry has flourished, a closely guarded wine industry has risen to be the best in the world, and I think the people have a healthy national pride in their country.
We’re now in Luxembourg, trying to sort out luggage for the trip to Poland, so I’ll leave it here.
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