We packed so much stuff into the past two weeks that it’s taken me three posts to tell you about it? Or maybe I just take too many pictures and I just cant leave them languishing on my computer, hiding in the “April, 2014” file. Lucky you.
What’s a spring break without a trip to a fort or two? Nothing, of course, so we headed out for the day with some friends. First stop, Sedan, France, birthplace of Yannick Noah and home to a really big chateau. Chateau de Sedan was once the largest fortified medieval castle in Europe. Construction began in 1424, which is a long, long time ago, but still seems fairly young by medieval castle standards. For instance, construction on Chateau de Bouillion, about ten miles down the road, was begun in 988.
What we have noticed as we travel around and visit these old forts is that they are often surrounded by an ugly town. For instance, poor Maubeuge, France is ugly beyond repair, parts of Sedan as well, and that is the fault of the strength of the forts. Every time a war rolls around, the forts get reused, all stocked up with ammunition and armies and guns, and then get bombed by the enemy. The poor town gets hit, too, and all those beautiful old buildings crumble, replaced by a big bunch of ugly, 20th century construction. Sedan was, as most cities throughout Europe were, involved in many smaller battles in it’s early years, but was also heavily involved in the Franco-Prussian War and both World Wars, invaded and occupied by Germany during each. The chateau was finally released to the city by the French Army in 1962.
And what did I get out of our tour of the Chateau de Sedan? That the original family who built the castle was named La Marck, who is also the main con man in the movie Ocean’s 12.
While we were in the area, we crossed back into Belgium to visit Bouillon. After spending most of the afternoon exploring one fortress we opted not to stop into another. However, it was 4:00, which means it was sweets time. A little ice cream with a view of the river and Bouillon Castle was the perfect end to our day’s adventure. We will definitely have to go back with more time to spend as the town was very inviting.
Easter weekend was the end of this year’s spring break. The kids were visited by the cloches de Pâques, the Easter Bells, on Sunday morning. No Easter Bunny here! And let me tell you, the bells bring much better chocolate than the bunny.
Happy Spring everyone!