Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chateau Fort Sedan DIY Tour

This fortified castle, in the area where the historical museum is housed, is conveniently locked away from the inner courtyards where the hotel and restaurant are located. I did my due diligence by roaming around the fort grounds and found that a large chunk of the castle and fort is not accessible to the public. The little discovery I uncovered: a small vaulted stone hallway leading to the historical castle museum, but helaas, the iron gates were locked. The only way to see the rest of the castle is to go to the entrance gate and pay the €7,50 fee.

I told Dutchman we will be visiting the castle museum. As expected, he was not excited about the idea and begged to be released from this castle visiting activity. He reasoned that he is tired and not well so will just take a nap. OK, fine with me. So I tucked him properly in bed and left.

Chateau Fort Sedan is said to be the largest castle in Europe covering an area of 35,000 square meters. Used to be a manor house in 1424 built by the de la Marck family who originally came from Germany, it later, through generations and expansion projects, became a massive bastion that is today.

I happen to read the tragic story of its last heiress, Charlotte de la Marck, who at 16 married Henri La Tour, the Marshal of France. After 3 years of marriage she bore him a son that died at childbirth. A week later, Charlotte died too. She was 19. Upon her death, Henri La Tour inherited everything, and remarried to the daughter of the Prince of Orange, William the Silent (of the House of Nassau, the Dutch Royal line).

Since it rained earlier, water was dripping in the narrow vaulted passageways. I like how they designed the historical tour of the castle museum. With the €7,50 entrance fee, you get a pamphlet (comes in several languages) that is in itself the tour guide. In your own pace, the pamphlet will show you around the castle, briefly explaining each showcase stop. For an additional €2,00 you can get the audio guide that also comes in several languages.

I also like that they have re-enacted some parts of the castle’s history in elaborate and animated stage settings. My favorite scene is the signing of the marriage contract between Charlotte de la Mark, the heiress of the Sedan municipality and Henri La Tour, the Marshal of France. The whole stage set is so grandly depicted.

From the castle, panoramic views of Sedan can also be enjoyed. The tour ends in the shop and café that exits to the inner courtyard of the castle which is just a stone’s throw away from the hotel entrance. Perfect, I don’t have to walk far. I’m looking forward to going back to the room to show Dutchman the many pictures I took.

My DIY tour starts!

Views from the castle to Sedan village:

On the castle grounds:

The castle is illuminated in the evening:

Travel Period: March 2008
Destination: Sedan (Champagne-Ardennes), France

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