The Castle of Guédelon in Treigny is definitely worth a visit. Not only because it’s a beautiful medieval castle, but much more because it’s still a construction site. At this moment it’s been under construction for about 22 years. Even though the most spectacular fact about this building is the construction site itself, the makers estimate the completion of the castle in about 10, 15, 20 years… And they already have some more projects in mind.
The Construction Site of the Castle of Guédelon
In the midst of a damp forest in French Burgundy, in the province Yonne, lies the construction site of the medieval Castle of Guédelon. The heads of the project call it the 21st century medieval adventure. And this for a good reason. As soon as we park our Jeep in the big parking lot, buy our tickets and walk through the entrance, we dive deep into a long forgotten time. This particular castle is not being reproduced, it’s being built according construction plans, designed for this castle only. The builders also use only tools that were used in the Middle Ages and produce those tools on site.
Ochre colored sandy road leads us to the Castle of Guédelon. The castle doesn’t look much different than other medieval castles. With the one difference, that this one is still under construction. As we pass by the small hats where we watch brickmakers, stonemasons, blacksmiths and woodsmen at work, time seems to have stood still.
In order to carry the big blocks of stone and other heavy materials from the outside to the courtyard, they built appropriate lifting machineries. Everything like in the Middle Ages. Exceptions are only made for the workers safety, for example dust masks that don’t quite fit the scenery. But: Safety first!
The area around the castle has some more places to explore. In the back we find the School “Pythagore”. It’s here where builders and apprentices learn the necessary skills to be part of this project.
We pass many small hats where ropemakers, basket weavers and carpenters do their work.
The Inner Courtyard of the Castle of Guédelon
We cross a small bridge to get to the inner courtyard of the Castle of Guédelon. In the corner is the other lifting machinery that transports the stone blocks into the courtyard. The stone masons fill up the baskets outside the walls and the bricklayers transport them to the right place in the courtyard. We can watch the bricklayers as they work on one of the outer circular walls of the courtyard.
The Interior of the Castle
Narrow stairs that are regulated as one-way traffic because a crossing would be impossible, lead to the core of the Castle. The great hall is surrounded by narrow passages from where we can oversee the surroundings of the castle. The great hall itself reminds us of scenes in movies with knights, kings and big feasts. Only that there is just a big bowl with fresh apples on the table.
The main actors, people and animals, contribute to the authenticity of the medieval construction site of the Castle of Guédelon. Builders dressed in medieval costumes, according to their profession and position.
Heavy horses are towing carriages with materials and delivering them to the construction site.
Castle of Guédelon – Our Impressions
We loved the visit at this very special construction site. It’s a possibility to experience history and witness a little piece of a long gone age. Alex was there before, about ten years ago. It was very exciting for him to see the enormous progress that has been made since the last time he visited. But it’s also definitely worth a one time visit in beautiful Burgundy.
Even dogs are allowed everywhere on the site, as long as they are on the leash. That’s a big plus, as you don’t want to leave your dogs in the car at high temperatures (or anytime). Sometimes it’s still a challenge to pass other dogs with our Mila, but we rather have them with us at all time.
Camping is not allowed on the fenced area. This is for safety reasons, as it is a construction site under building law and they have to follow the safety regulations.
We arrived the evening before and met the responsible manager. We chatted for a little while and he gave us a special permission to camp right in front of the fence. This spot is right beside a main road, so we recommend to find another camping spot, for example in nearby Treigny, if you have some spare time.
Read all about the first part of this Tour, how we got here: “Offroad Trip to France – Franche-Comté, Burgundy and the Vosges”.