Driving through the département of the Allier in central France can be like driving through Iowa or Illinois in summer. You’re surrounded by the agricultural richness of the region – vast yellow fields, giant bales of hay ready to be loaded and stored, barns and farmhouses clustered in little compounds alongside the road. The biggest difference? There aren’t that many ancient châteaux in Iowa and Illinois! I was enjoying a drive like this a few weeks ago, taking the long way back from the extraordinary church at St Menoux to Moulins, when a medieval vision suddenly loomed over the little D-road in front of me. It was the Château de Fourchaud (curiously spelled Fourchault on the road signs in the […]
The more I read about Gustav Eiffel, the more amazed I am at the variety and number of projects he and his company executed. Among his early projects, I knew that the beautiful red arc of the Viaduct at Garabit was one of the most important things he did long before he built that famous tower in Paris.
One of the first things you notice when you move to France is the difference between the French legal system and the ones we’re more familiar with in the U.S. and the U.K. For us, it became obvious on our first visits to some of the ruined castles in the Auvergne. We were surprised by the absence of safety barriers and access controls around piles of rubble, narrow staircases, and open pits in many of the ruins open to the public. We have pictures of my wife grabbing our 8-year-old son by the belt to keep him from plunging over the top of a castle rampart.