Monday, June 23, 2014

Chateau des Singes

Chateau des Singes (or Castle of Monkeys  as its known online) is a an abandoned 17th century chateau near the small town of Vernon (and Giverny) between Rouen and Paris.  I've had my eye on this place for quite some time.  It's a little over an hour away from where we live in Normandy, and when my friend Jeff came in town looking for an afternoon to kill, I knew this was the perfect time to check it out.  We got a late start, but the timing ended up being perfect.  These shots were taken after 9pm.  I love the long summer days here in Normandy!

Sadly, Europe has its fair share of abandoned chateaus, mainly due to the fact that future generations just can't afford the upkeep on them.  This one is no exception.  Up until a few years ago Ernest, the stubborn and prideful old owner, lived in a single room of the chateau with his faithful dog, letting the rest of the chateau slowly crumble around him.  In 2008 the mayor of the small village, hating to see such majestic architecture fall into such disrepair, reached out to Earnest in hopes to help.  She was swiftly turned away.  The place continued to rot.  Sometime shortly after that a fire broke out in one of the wings.  When the firefighters showed up to stop the blaze, they were insulted and even threatened by old Earnest.  He wanted nothing to do with them, even though they were just trying to save his house.  Luckily, the fire was restricted to one wing of the house.

Now of course there are two sides to every story, and Earnest's is certainly a sad one.  It has been said that Ernest put everything he had into his house, making sure that every meticulous detail of his renovation was accurate to the time period it was built.  There is no doubt he loved the chateau, but unfortunately it seems as though he ran out of money somewhere along the line.  In recent years he was forced in a retirement home, leaving the house open to every curious passerby.  Taggers and vandals have left their mark, but other good explorers have taken the time and effort to paint over the graffiti, using their own money to help protect Earnest's dream.  

It was quite obvious during our journey that someone was living there.  Fresh signs of life were everywhere, including a loaf of bread who's expiration date was 6/24/14, which as of this writing is still in the future.  Freaky.  We didn't run into anyone during our trip, but that didn't stop our little discovery from freaking Riki our for good.  I could have spent all day there, but sadly daylight was running out and we still had to find dinner somewhere.

Nature is slowly reclaiming this beaut, but the good news is that this house seems extremely savable.  As you'll see below, the wood beams in the attic almost look brand new.  Besides the two wings, I couldn't see much water damage, and the place still looks pretty solid.  Now obviously this is a million dollar plus renovation, but someone with enough passion and money should have no problem saving this chateau.  With time running out on this place, let's hope it happens soon! 

[And as usual, my only purpose in photographing these abandoned places is to document what's left behind. I never break in or force anything open...if it's sealed up it's simply move on my way. I take only photographs, and leave only footprints. It's all about respect.  For more info on the place, click here.]

I have to admit, this circle of freshly dried blood did creep me out a bit.  

So long beautiful chateau...hopefully I'll be reading about your rescue soon enough.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


I almost forgot that somewhere back in the spring we took a trip to Cannes.  I had a shoot down there and we decided to make a weekend of it.  As advertised, it was beautiful.  The only other thing I noticed was how stupid rich everyone was.  As you'll see, there were a lot of stupid rich cars, stupid rich yachts, and stupid rich people.  That pretty much sums it up.  Oh, and just for comparison...the water is gorgeous, but I still feel that the overall beach is better in Destin.  It's just hard to beat that pearly white sand.  Anyway, Cannes was great.  If you're looking for a spot to just park your yacht and just relax, look no further.  

The train ride back to Paris was one of the most beautiful I've seen.  The south of France is just stunning country.