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Pierre explains why Australians have a fascination for medieval castles, which is like stepping into a different world.

Living in the “New World” country of Australia we consider anything 100 years old or more to be of interest as it is rare to see a stone built architectural gem still standing from the time of the European settlers. On the other side of the world however, where history spans further and deeper into time there are many more historic icons left standing. For many Australian tourists, it is this mystery of the old world which entices them back to France year after year, where famous castles stand tall over stunning landscapes, dotted along rivers or in other strategic but beautiful locations.

The Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle and the view to the plain of Alsace © French Moments
The Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle and the view to the plain of Alsace © French Moments

One day I was chatting with one of our native French teachers in Sydney who had recently taken her young children on a visit to France. She explained that her kids “had never been there before and although they were French, it was as though they were discovering a completely new world. They were travelling along the Alsace Wine Route when suddenly the kids got really excited at seeing a real castle for the first time in their lives! When living in Europe, we can easily take it for granted that we see castles and old buildings around us, but for Australians it is like stepping into a different world.

Books about medieval castles in France © French Moments

It is this Medieval France that fascinates adults and children alike. Movies such as Les Visiteurs (1993) which was number one in the French box office with 13,782,846 ticket sales, clearly illustrates the trend and there are hundreds of websites dedicated to the Middle Ages, many of them about medieval castles. Sales in stores selling medieval artifacts, books, and music are booming, particularly in tourist areas.

So what is it that Australians love about these medieval castles?

Beynac castle © French Moments
The medieval castle © French Moments

I think that it is the mystery, that almost magical feeling of walking around a castle that is still intact, being able to retrace the footsteps of ancient nobles, seeing the torture chambers and the way they waged war. We love to see the period reenactments, festivals and markets which take you back in time. Everything is so fast-paced in our society and it is refreshing to imagine a time when life was slower!

So, which medieval castles are worth planning to visit on your next trip to France? To know the answer, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow when we will be posting our top 10 selection!

À bientôt !

English-French Vocabulary

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • artefact = objet ancien (m)
  • Australia = Australie (f)
  • castle = château (m)
  • Middle-Ages = Moyen Âge (m)
  • New World = Nouveau Monde (m)
  • torture chamber = chambre de torture (f)
  • tourist = touriste (m,f)
  • to visit = visiter (v)
  • war = guerre (f)


About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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