The Wandering Scot

An occasional travel journal.

Browsing Posts tagged France

I have successfully both entered and escaped the legendary Château d’If!

The real-life Château d’If is almost exactly as described in Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo. A stern 16th century castle on a tiny fortified island offshore from Marseilles, with strong walls, dank cells, and few visitors.

The tourist authorities have helpfully labeled one cell as they very one where Edmond Dantès, the Comte de Monte Cristo, had been held. And it comes complete with a narrow roughly cut escape tunnel!

Fortunately, in reality the modern guards are happy to let visitors enter and leave for only 6 Euros. (The spoon hidden in my sock was quite unnecessary.) But back in the day, it really was a very secure prison, analogous to Alcatraz. Outside of fiction, no one is ever known to have escaped.

Carcassonne: Medieval Walls

I’m enjoying the historic medieval French city of Carcassonne.  It is perfectly formed, with magnificent double curtain walls, a grand fortress, tall round towers with spiky roofs, portcullis gates, the works.  It is very cool!

Note that this is not like one of those recent Chinese “restorations” of Ancient City Walls.  Mais non!  This is an authentic 19th c French restoration!  By an eminent architect who had a very clear vision of what a medieval walled city ought to look like and spared no expense to implement it!

Alas, some pettifogging historians objected to some of the details, and so in the 1960s some of the towers got re-restored with more plausible battlements and flattish tile roofs.  But most of that wonderful 19th c. vision is still intact.

Kidding aside, the bases of the walls and most of the castle made it into the 19th c, so the restorative creativity was mostly around the battlements and the roofs.  The core structure is real.  And it is seriously impressive!

The Restored Castle
The 1960’s Re-Restoration