Monday, June 26, 2006

chateau du taureau

I've waited several years to visit this sea fort, despite writing about it in various books and articles and often gazing at it longingly from the shore. It was built to protect the Bay of Morlaix after the English raid of 1522, itself an act of reprisal for corsaire attacks on Bristol. The English managed to sack Morlaix, in the absence of soldiers and merchants, but many hung around to get drunk and were still sleeping it off when the Comte de Laval and his troops swept back and butchered the lot of them. The motto of Morlaix, with a pun on its name, allegedly comes from this event: 's'ils te mordent, mords les!' Too good to be true? Vauban inevitably upgraded the place later, but it finally became the sad prison of a few deluded and/or murderous aristocrats, whose families were happy to pay for their incarceration, before falling into disuse.
The fort has just opened to the public for the first time and I've had to wait impatiently until today because half the world wants to see it. Got the early morning sailing from Carantec, sandwiched between a party of elderly French visitors and about fifty infants plus harrassed teachers. Ten minute trip across the bay and once landed, I ran straight up to the top terrace to get a clear look around before the place was overrun - forty minutes later we were all summoned back to the boat, so not exactly an in-depth study but at least a place of the imagination is now transformed into experience, and next time I'll know what I'm talking about ...

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