We first headed out to the Chateau de St Fargeau, which has been lovingly restored by two brothers for 30 years. Just imagining their to do list and their budget gave me a headache: with 15 staircases, 250 windows, and over 2 acres of roof to maintain, their work is truly a labor of love.
The castle was really amazing to visit as they provided access to every part. Some rooms had been set up to recreate scenes from the lives of various previous owners like Anne Marie Louise d’Orleans, la Grande Demoiselle, a rich and eccentric cousin of Louis XIV who was exiled at St Fargeau, and Louis Michel LePeletier who was one of the first noblemen to be murdered during the French Revolution. Other rooms, like the guard room, was filled with swords and armor from the middle ages. We ran from basement to attic, posing as wenches in the kitchen, throwing Steve in jail, and imagining our lives ending in the guillotine.
Sightseeing in France requires a lot of explanations of violent history but the kids have been enthralled by it all. Rather than giving them nightmares, it’s resulted in fascinating conversations about democracy, the rights of monarchs to their citizens, capitalism, and even the failure of communism! Just when I thought we were getting carried away, Bella blew me away when she answered Jack’s question about whether bad guys ever win wars by saying,
“Jack, there are no bad guys or good guys, it’s just whose side you’re on depending on what you believe.”
It only seemed fitting that after exploring the French past, we would also witness its future. We drove by the massive towers of a nuclear power plant and stood staring at the columns of steam it propelled into the sky. France is a big believer in nuclear energy. They have 56 nuclear power plants, generating 76% of the electricity used in France.