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A Feast of Medieval History on the Charente Maritime

A Feast of Medieval History on the Charente Maritime

With both girls enjoying the variety of historical sites across the Charente Maritimethey jumped at the chance to discover the ancient UNESCO citadel at Blaye alongside taking in a hugely interactive medieval market/fete at Pons…

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Both girls enjoyed the variety on show at the wonderful town of Pons. Set high on a hill top, this town has been long protected by the imposing square ‘Donjon’ that sits beside one of the prettiest town squares in France. Stunning flower beds provide a kaleidoscope of colour that is only improved by the water garden that allows children to dodge water fountains that spring from the floor. The Medieval market lasts all day (on the third weekend each July). Littered with medieval soldiers, a medieval camp, archery and birds of prey displays, illuminators and old crafts stalls. In the afternoon a medieval atmosphere strikes up around the Dungeon with child-friendly  interactive demonstrations of jousting, archery, wooden games.
In the evening a costume parade takes place in the streets around the dungeon with street dancers completing the evening in style. Blaye provided a quiet yet amazing opportunity to discover the secret subterranean passages that run underneath this historic citadel. Situated north of Bordeaux, on the banks of an estuary it overlooks a series of 9 naturally formed islands. Its citadel is situated no more than 100m from a superb aire with great views, easy access to the town and the restaurants in the citadel provide stunning backdrops to ‘sunset suppers’!
It first rose to prominence as a roman fort (Bellevie) before the Lords of Blaye developed this into a defensive citadel. With Henry 2nd and the Acquitaine period resulting in 300yrs of English rule, it fell to Louis XIV (the Sun King) to restore it to French rule. The forts defensive position was crucially important in protecting Bordeaux so the military genius Vauban was called upon to produce the most impressive of the 160  ‘iron belt’ fortresses that surround France.
Protected by forts on the Medoc and Blaye, the fortress employs the Bastion method, allowing three concentric rings of defence with highly packed walls protecting the citadel keep.The entire 23 hectare site is impressive, but perhaps not as impressive as the subterranean guide tour that provided our girls with an in-depth knowledge of castle design, protection and how life was lived in a medieval castle.

Both experiences yet again demonstrate just what can be found by spending some time at the local tourist office when you arrive in a new area…. Great for our intrepid Educational Explorers who are fast developing a real love for history


so where did we park the bus for the night?

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Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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