One of the prettiest villages in France is Apremont-sur-Allier, near Orléans. The ancient chateau belonged to the Saint-Saveur family. In 1894, the female heir married an industrialist named Eugène Schneider who played house on a grand scale, beautifying both the chateau and the village that surrounded it. Any modern buildings were simply removed and rebuilt to look medieval. The work was carried on by his grandson, Gilles de Brissac, who created an English-style garden with architectural follies like the Japanese bridge.
Apremont is not the easiest place to get to. I made the pilgrimage there in 2006. I took a train to Nevers and then a cab to Apremont. It was a Sunday and there were no buses running. After all that effort, one of the rolls of film was destroyed by the developer. Ugh. It gives me a good excuse to go back some day – this time with a digital camera.
Today’s expression, se faire des illusions (suh fare days ill-u-see-ohn), literally means “to make illusions for oneself” or “to delude oneself.” Schneider’s changes may be illusions of the Middle Ages, but they’re lovely ones. I only have a few pictures of my day there to prove that the whole trip wasn’t an illusion.