Château de Tanlay : first stop on our road trip through Burgundy

Château de Tanlay : first stop on our road trip through Burgundy

with 18 Comments

 

The grey sky was lightening up as we were racing through pine forests on a national road. I could have sworn that the soil was getting sandier, and that we were actually getting closer to the Atlantic!

 

We drove through tiny derelict villages, where half of the farmhouses were tumbling down. A teenage boy on his bike squinted at us with so much intent that I realized our car must have been the first to drive through that morning. Where the hell are we now? Mei smiled but was silent as a tomb.

 

As we entered into another secluded village, she suddenly stopped the car right in the middle of a deserted street. This is it, she said. Seriously? There wasn’t a soul anywhere besides us. I got out of the car, slightly confused. She stayed behind the wheel, pulling out some papers: it looked like she wasn’t sure where exactly we had to go to from here…

 

Across the street, a series of maple trees seemed to lead up to a mansion. We passed under an arch and as we turned around the corner, we stopped in our tracks… and saw this:

 

 

Not sure where this impressive gatehouse, or pavilion, would lead us to, we slowly walked through it, only to discover a giant courtyard that seemed to go on forever. On its left unfolds a remarkable Renaissance castle with cylindrical towers at its four corners, encircled by a rectangular water-filled moat, which doubles its infinite dimensions.

 

Our eyes wandered from porticos to pillars, from courts to arcades. The unusual detail that caught our sight right away were the paired carved pyramidal obelisks that flank the drawbridge spanned over the moat.

 

 

The Château de Tanlay looked grand, and symmetrical, and yet confusing. Strangely enough, the wondrous mix of architectural styles of this 16th century castle formed a harmonious whole.

 

We strolled a while through the magnanimous gardens, along the great canal, admiring the view of the castle from all perspectives.

 

The sky was getting darker. The air was electric and hot. A storm was on its way. Tiny black insects kept invading every inch of our skin. On our way out, we stopped at a small café-bookstore across the street, which was now open. The owners, a friendly old couple, who didn’t shy away from rummaging through their supplies of books to look for the authors I asked for, told us that these little beasts are called “puces d’orage” – thunderstorm fleas.

 

 

The lady at the shop asked where we were heading to. No idea, I said and looked at Mei. She giggled and explained that it’s a surprise for me. All you need to know is that we’re in Burgundy now. It’s time to hit the road again…

 

We turned on a narrow strip of land sloping down the flank of vineyards and pastures. On my right, endless prairies with white Charolais cattle grazing in the gently rolling hills. On my left, my beautiful wife, with that mysterious smile telling me that she owns a secret I am not (yet) aware of.

 

[Click here to read about our following destinations in Burgundy.]

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Chateau de Tanlay, Burgundy © Travelwithmk.com

 

Follow Kerstin:

Traveler - Storyteller

Kerstin is a 30-something French teacher, born and raised in a tiny Luxembourgish village, but who used to live in Bordeaux, Paris, Athens and San Francisco with her wife Mei. Fluent in 5 languages, she’s above all a huge book enthusiast, a fervent writer and storyteller, and could never refuse a good old single malt whiskey. Oh, and she also loves coffee and chocolate (not sure in which order though).

18 Responses

  1. The Globe Trotter
    | Reply

    What an exciting surprise! Château de Tanlay looks very grand. I like the architecture. And I also liked your style of writing 🙂

  2. David Meldrum
    | Reply

    I love the architecture of this place! I love seeing little villages of the usual track of the tourists. Normally where you see proper culture. Its a shame that the young lad squinted at you guys.

  3. One Girl: One World
    | Reply

    Burgundy is one of the few parts of France I haven’t visited yet, so your post will be of good use to me when I head back! The Château de Tanlay looks like a lovely place for a stroll. France is full of lovely surprises, isn’t it?

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Hi Francesca, I’m glad that my post will be useful for you when you visit Burgundy! There’s really a lot to do and see in this region, so make sure to spend at least a week there!

  4. Christopher
    | Reply

    First off I have to say this writing is beautiful. If you didn’t include any pictures I would of been able to picture everything you described. That being said the architecture is very beautiful. I love castles, especially ones with a moat.

  5. Eve Kay
    | Reply

    A roadtrip in France sounds awesome! I love discovering gems like this on the way. There are so many of these in Europe (and must be the case in France as well). Hope you enjoyed the chateaux and wine there!

  6. I love your writing style! It makes everything feel so real. The obelisks were my favorite, remind me almost of a beehive? I’m a sucker for renaissance architecture and cant wait to make it to France!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you! 🙂 Oh if you like Renaissance architecture you have to visit France, but also Italy!

  7. Claudia
    | Reply

    How delightful to stumble across this amazing place. Château de Tanlay looks like the perfect French chateau to explore.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      There are many other castles in Burgundy, but from the outside the Château de Tanlay was definitely the most amazing one! 🙂

  8. lucywilliamsglobal
    | Reply

    What an exciting trip! I hope you had a nice surprise! How can you go wrong in wine country, especially in Burgundy in France! Love the photos of Château de Tanlay looks very dramatic and French!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Indeed! Roadtripping through a wine country is always nice. Although, I must admit that I have a slight preference for the wines of Bordeaux and its surroundings. Haha…

  9. Mel Jones
    | Reply

    I love it when you come across seemingly random things like this on your travels! On a road trip and BOOM there’s a Renaissance castle teehee! 😉 Amazing find! The historical architecture in Burgundy is just stunning!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Haha! Yes, indeed! And it was not just in Tanlay… we were so often surprised by huge and magnificent castles in the middle of nowhere as we drove through Burgundy!

  10. SherianneKay
    | Reply

    Before reading this I knew that I wanted to spend some time in Burgundy but now I NEED to spend some time Burgundy — thanks for growing my never ending list!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      You definitely need to! There is so much to see and do in Burgundy! And if you like castles and wine, then you’re served in this charming region. 🙂

  11. Fiona Maclean
    | Reply

    French Chateaux are just so beautiful. And, of course they have the added bonus of often having great wines on offer too! Looking forward to hearing what you did next

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Oh yes! Especially in a wine region such as Burgundy, you can’t just leave right after visiting a Chateau without having a glass of wine first! 🙂

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