With 3 months to spend in Europe, I knew from the very start that I would be seeing a lot of castles.
Well, today I visited my favourite one so far.
Located in Mazères, France, the Château de Roquetaillade is a vision ripped straight from a fairytale picture book. If you were to ask a 4-year-old Christina what a castle looked like, I would have probably drawn you a sketch that looked just like Roquetaillade. Complete with a dry moat, drawbridge and tall towers on each corner, just a single look made my imagination run wild with childhood fantasies of dragons and damsels in distress.
The craziest part about this castle is that it is actually still someone’s home. In fact, the same family has lived in it since 1306.
I mean, imagine saying “welcome to my humble abode” while opening the doors to this:
Our guide, Sebastian was absolutely fantastic. Moving effortlessly back and forth between English and French, his humour and presentation style easily made him my favourite guide so far. His knowledge of the castle is unbeatable, with clever commentary on even the slightest of details. What amazed me was that every single carving seemed to have significance. For example, a monkey holding an apple in his mouth supposedly meant that the builder’s apprentice was well paid. All these tidbits and more made the visit super interesting. At one point, Sebastian even managed to sneak in a Harry Potter reference, so you can definitely say he has my seal of approval.
Though simple on the outside, this castle is full of whimsical surprises. My favourite of course was the resident “goat in the moat”, William, who wandered the grounds mindlessly while eating grass. It’s no wonder that this castle has been the filming site for several TV shows and movies!
Sadly, photos of the interior were not allowed for privacy reasons, but we were nonetheless brought through a tour of the kitchen (still used by the family today) and several rooms that were gorgeously restored. The kitchen walls were covered in shiny copper pots in varying sizes and Sebastian was quick to point out the “15th century ice cream maker” and “2015 Christmas Ham” located on opposite sides of the room. Throughout the tour, Sebastian constantly impressed me with his keen attention to detail. This man seriously knew everything.
… And at the end of the tour, we found out why. As our bus left Roquetaillade for the day, another guide let us in on a little secret: Sebastian is in fact the owner of the castle, part of the family that has lived there for over 700 years! Apparently, this is a fact that he prefers to not disclose… So, let’s keep this between you and me!
After touring Roquetaillade, we were taken to Château Simon, our last winery stop of the cruise. As our bus pulled into this quaint winery, I couldn’t help but feel that the name seemed oddly familiar. A few minutes into our tour, it finally hit me. We had been drinking Château Simon wine all week on board! It was a really neat experience to meet the family behind the wine that fuelled countless amazing conversations this week. We concluded our visit with a tasting of their specialty Sauternes wine, unique for its bright topaz colour and crisp, sweet flavor. Harvested from grapes affected by noble rot, these wines have a distinct sweetness that make them an ideal pair for various foods, including foie gras.
And just like that, the 2nd cruise of my CroisiEurope Photo Tour has come to an end. With just a day’s break between cruises, the next time I write you, I’ll be in the gorgeous region of Provence in Southern France! It’ll be a short cruise on board the MS Van Gogh, but I must say, I can already smell the lavender ;)
Talk to you soon from Provence!