Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Château de Murol

What to do the day after you keep the kids up too late having dinner with friends? Drive thirty minutes to a 12th century castle, obviously.
Château de Murol (I'll pause a moment so you can be impressed that I've found all the accent shortcuts on my American keyboard). (Ok now? Good) sits up on a hill overlooking the village of Murol, along the "Route de Fromages d'Auvergne," which translates to "Auvergne Cheeses Road." We'll definitely be exploring that one soon.
 As with every historical tourist site in the area, and there are hundreds, Murol boasts beautiful panoramic views of the volcanos, villages, and farms. This region is aggressively beautiful. I hope I never get used to it.

We parked alongside the road, in a mercifully shady spot on another 90 degree day. Josh wasn't feeling great, which was made worse by the steep hike up to the castle. France is notoriously difficult for anyone with mobility issues to navigate, and this place is no exception. It feels great for we soft, able-bodied Americans to be walking so much, but it frustrates me greatly to think of all the people who never get to see these sights. But once we made it up to the castle and paid for our entrance, the kids and I left Josh resting on a shady bench and started exploring.
Halfway up inside the castle.

Another view from about halfway.
 There's a reimagined kitchen with cooking shows a few times per day, a root cellar down below which was so cool we nearly stayed there the whole time, and a bedroom designed to look as it would have when the château was in regular use. The kids were delightedly grossed out by the chamber pot! Nothing can beat violence when it comes to kids' imaginations, though. Not even poop and pee. So we made sure to take a picture with the swords, crossbows, and helmets. The walls of the room were lined with spears and sabers too! And on some days you can see a real jousting exhibition, but not the day we were there.
 Next, Lincoln insisted that we climb up the tiny, steep, shallow spiral stairs to reach the top of the castle. It was terrifying for me, but they loved it! And again, the view.
Sylvia is pretending to be me. She loved it.

Narrow passageways - I couldn't see the kids if they got more than a few steps ahead of me!
 Finally Josh was feeling a bit better, so we collected him and moved on to the blacksmith's shop. A real working blacksmith, and he spoke English! His brother in law has moved to Atlanta to work for an ophthalmology research firm, and he's hoping to visit. But at these Medieval wages...haha!
 He explained the process of making an arrowhead that would've been used with an English longbow, and then he made one, right there in front of us. The handle above his head pumps the bellows, and we were all impressed by the big flames that resulted.
Medieval man bun! And seriously awesome skills. 
 Finally the kids got to hold the cooled arrowhead, and I managed to ask a couple of questions in (very bad) French.
We were all tired and hot, and the walk down the hill to the car was slowed by grasshopper hunting and recreational whining. But then there was a view of the village, and horses nipping flies off each others' flanks in the pasture, and the chance to drive over 40mph on the highway for a change. Another easy, educational treasure in close proximity to Clermont. More and more and more to come.

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