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HISTORY

  

There is no dated record of its construction. The first mention of this castle dates back to the thirteenth century. It is inherited from generation to generation, passed by one family of the local nobility down to the next.
 
In 1650, its owner, a "Frondeur" who is part of a large aristocratic and popular rebellion against monarchical authority during Louis XIV's minority, is banished from the court and starts a series of renovations, living a lavish life until he goes bankrupt a few years later. The castle passes on to the next owner, and to the next, but its condition deteriorates more and more, until it gets ransacked during the Revolution.
 At the end of the nineteenth century, it has been renovated many times over, revamped and transformed in the romantic fashion of the renowned Châteaux de la Loire. It is now surrounded by water.
 
But on March 13th 1932, as the baron has just had the castle set up with central heating, a terrible fire breaks out. The firemen rush from everywhere in the region but are powerless to protect it and avoid the disaster. Only the chapel, the dovecote and the outbuildings are spared. According to the newspapers of the time, losses are considerable, reaching millions. Antique furniture, rare books, Gobelin tapestries and other priceless art pieces are considered forever lost.
 
The estate, purchased in the 60s, is eventually acquired by a banking group in the 90s before being sold as separate lots to private owners. Its current state is in part the consequence of a legal imbroglio preventing any kind of restoration, the castle itself belonging to many owners with divergent interests
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Kronoscopic Report

 

We are spending a rainy weekend at some relatives' when it dawns on me that we could do a little exploring to kill time... and I chance upon this fairy tale castle. Unbelievable. Hords of urbexers have already visited the place, few, if any, have been able to actually enter it and I already know this visit will be at best frustrating, at worst dangerous. Some archived newspaper articles report the scary adventures of a previous un-authorized teenage photographer chased by one of the owners, armed with a rifle... read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kronoscopic Report, cont'd

 

... how about thinking twice before going?
No. In fact, we don't give it a second thought. We take the car the next morning and drive there, under a heavy rain. We find the castle easily. Castle Frog. Of course, not its real name (do I really need to hide it?) but the croakings are all around us and it's the first name that comes to my mind. We park the car nearby, take out the gear and start walking down a dirt track which follows the canal, on the right of the castle.
The estate has been strangely conceived : surrounded by a moat-like pond that makes it magically emerge from the water, the castle overlooks a large and long "backyard" facing its magnificent colonnaded porch (sorry for my ignorance in architectural terms) just above the water surface. On this stretch of land, a chapel, in the midst of trees. And beyond, all around, a canal, about 10 meters wide, that seems to be supplying the moat/pond with water.
A little farther down the track, we find out it follows the bended canal. And that there is a car at the far end. Driving towards us. No need to hide, we are totally exposed, it would be very stupid and useless. And then, we think, if the guy is driving, at least, he can't be carrying a gun! The service car pulls over. We initiate conversation : we ask him if it's possible to take some photos without disturbing anyone or anything, we'll be mere shadows. The guy isn't against it, but isn't the owner either. He advises us to be careful, to ask around, but as he sees it, we'll get a firm no because we are not the first ones and the real owner is kinda pig-headed. Okie. Then he drives on, leaving us on the track, alone with our questions.
To clear our consciences, we decide to be straightforward and go knock at the door (ajar) of the old outbuilding where one of the owners lives now. An old disgruntled-looking man comes up. We introduce ourselves and explain the purpose of our visit. He replies he couldn't care less, he's just an employee, the boss isn't here now, but pictures are just plainly forbidden, before going back where he came from...
Well. We will have done everything we can. Now, it's open bar. Especially now that we know the owner is away. The beautiful entrance gate beyond the bridge is out of the question, though : we'd have to run across the ground sitting in between the two main outbuildings, potentially encroaching upon a second owner's property... and coming in close contact with a pack of angry dogs that have been furiously barking since we arrived.
So there we go again, back to the dirt track, along which we find nothing short of a small miracle : a concrete block ford that we use to walk across the canal on to the middle land. At long last. We run from tree to tree, hiding from imaginary armed enemies and zigzag our way to the chapel. Shut down. Locked. Absolutely no way in. Some stained-glass windows are cracked or broken and missing, but the leaden structures are still intact and we won't touch them. We shoot the building from the outside. 
Now for the castle, or as close to the bank as we dare to go. What a disaster, what a beauty. This castle is a breathtaking marvel, and it is just unthinkable for us not to be able to enter it. We would need a canoe (and to disembark at the colonnaded porch, so exciting!) or else swim across the thirtyish-meter wide moat with waterproof bags to safely carry all our gear. But we don't have that sort of equipment (yet). In the end, we will only be able to shoot from this bank, moving along between the trees and the more exposed spots, hearing the distant barking of the dogs while keeping an eye on the track and an ear for any sort of engine sound. Frustrating visit, as expected, but such a delightful discovery.

 
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