When Audrey and I visited Europe May, 2012, we certainly didn’t take the easiest routes. One day, it was pouring rain and we had a LONG drive ahead of us. We took some random roads since there were no major highways en-route We were traveling down N147 near Bellac when both my girlfriend and I saw a small tower peaking out over the trees. I squealed and said, “What if that’s a castle!!!” half jokingly. We pull over quickly and start heading down this little driveway. There was a sign that said something along the lines of “No Trespassing” As a photographer, I took that as, “Don’t get caught.”
We pulled over and carefully calculated our next move. We debated about what would happen if we got caught, how would we explain ourselves not knowing any French. What if it got blown out of proportion and they sent us to jail or something ridiculous. As we debated this, we saw a tractor leaving the complex directly between us and what I could only assume was a glorious castle. This not only made us more nervous because we knew someone was actually living nearby and tended to the property, but at the same time I knew since he just left it’d be the best time to try and go see it.
I put my camera inside a rain cover, Audrey put a bag on her head and we ran down to see what we had discovered.
We timidly approach the ginormous and decrepit beauty. As soon as I gazed upon the ruins, I almost cried tears of joy. My whole life I’d always wanted to stumble upon something exactly like this. At that point I couldn’t hold back, I took off running. I ran all the way around the castle. Across the piles of manure, through the soaking wet fields, past the sheep to try and get a good view of it. I wanted to see it straight on in full glory.
And there I stood. Looking at what may have been the most beautiful building for hundreds of miles, lying there forgotten. Taken for granted by its current owner who sees it only fit as a place to keep his manure. How tragic, yet how beautiful. I sprinted back to the car, soaking wet from the rain and the wet grass. Out of breath I gathered myself. I told Audrey what I had just experienced was instantly one of my favorite memories of all times. When I was a kid I would draw castles all day long. Not just like some kids do with crayons, but obsessively over and over until I was around 14. This little discovery was the ultimate childhood dream for me.
Moral of the story, never take the easy route. Never take a train to get from point A to B when you’re trying to have an adventure. Get in a car, get lost, and discover something!
In case you’re every mindlessly driving around France, here’s the address for “Chateau de Bagnac”
87300 Saint-Bonnet-de-Bellac, France