Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Local Castle

Perk of living in France: having a local castle. I've talked about the Château de la Napoule before- it's hard not to because we can see it from our balcony.

Last week David had Tuesday off for All Saint's Day (the French like to not work on Catholic holidays despite the fact that they're the least religious people ever). We took that opportunity of a day off to finally do a visite guidée (a tour!) of the building we've been staring at for the last month.

On one of my first days here in Mandelieu I took a walk in the lovely castle gardens for free and didn't realize for a few weeks that it wasn't magically free and I'd snuck in without paying. This time we did things legally and forked over the 6 euros.

Basically, the castle was a pile of ruins with 2 towers still left over from the Middle Ages when 2 filthy rich Americans bought the place in the early 1900s and renovated and rebuilt things. Henry and Marie Clews (the filthy rich Americans) were some pretty interesting people. Henry was an artist and sculptor, and his artwork is all over the chateau.

The Clews named the castle "Once Upon a Time-" inscribed above the door.

The best room is the dining room, done in Gothic style. All of the carvings above the door and even the stained glass windows were done by Henry.

We were super entertained by Henry's workshop, which is filled with whimsical sculptures that were fun to mock. This one was our favorite.

Apparently the Clews were very much in love... as evidenced by the way they had their medieval-style crypt designed. By their request, the tombs are propped open (not a bad place to visit for the day after Halloween). Above the crypt is a tower with a sealed room that can't be accessed by doors or windows. They plan on their souls meeting in that room and spending forever together. Ok then.

I still think the best part about the castle are the gardens! 

And you can't beat that Mediterranean view.

A big merci to the quirky Clews family for this chateau. The cherry on top of our first day of November was a visit to the beach after the castle tour. The temperature was in the low 70s but the water was a little chilly. I waded a little bit but David was determined and made it all the way in for a swim. He's very proud of himself. We both enjoyed some time laying out on the sand and had a hard time believing it was actually November.

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