The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 19

Delicious sunshine cocktails and scrumptious recipes, brilliant features and tons of information and gorgeous photos to inspire your visits. The secret life of castles in Burgundy, the Abbey of Senanque in Provence, Sainte-Denis, Lourdes, Calvados in Normandy, Paris, Grenoble and more...

Photo: Christopher Cage

Photo: Christopher Cage Chateau de Joux, Haut-Doubs If you like your castles to be brooding and dramatic then this one’s for you. Perched on a rocky peninsula along one of the ancient major trade routes of Europe, the Chateau de Joux tells a tale of a thousand years of military history. A visit here is not for the faint-hearted, those who have mobility issues and definitely no pushchairs. There are no lifts or ramps, you have to get into the castle via steep stairs. It's worth it though because this isn't like any other castle. "Here we dream of history" said Francois Miterrand when he visited and he's right, this place feels alive with the past - 1000 years worth. It was also once a prison “the little sister of the Bastille” says the guide. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck just to think about those who have been locked up in this chateau. There have been many, including the unfortunate Berthe de Joux, wife of a crusader. Believeing he was dead she fell in love with one of his companions. Alas the husband returned, killed the lover and locked his wife in a tower where she stayed until he died. You can visit the cell where prisoners were held and when the guide turns out the light, the darkness weighs like a tangible horror, totally dark and silent, you can't help but shudder. There are no glamorous furnishings, no gardens to walk through - this is the bad boy of castles with seriously impressive views to match and kids will love its dramatic story. Parents might like to visit nearby Pontarlier afterwards where absinthe is made! Open April - November, guided tour only, see the website for events and night time tours.

Citadel of Besanson, Jura The immense Citadel of Besancon deserves far more space than we have here, but it would be impossible to mention Jura and not mention this huge, astonishing fort. (You can expect a whole article devoted to the subject in the near future!). When I entered through the huge arch of the vast masterpiece built by Louis XIV's military engineer Vauban, crows cawed and the sound echoed all around. The last thing I expected to see as I walked over a bridge to the inner area was baboons and goats running around, but there they were, capering about on the hill the citadel sits on. I'm told they're retired from zoos and can't get out! you're in the clouds, especially if it's a misty day as it was when I was there. Inside this UNESCO listed monument which covers a massive 12 hectares, are museums, an aquarium, insectarium, noctarium, farm and rooms with exhibits and showing film, walkways in the sky and a whole lot more. You could easily spend an entire day here if you want to see everything. And always, there are the views, extraordinary from this vantage point 100m above the old town. Open from February to December. The Citadel is so high you feel as though Get lots more information about chateaux and places to stay in Bourgogne- Franche-Comte at the tourist office website: