Saturday, 3 May 2008

Deux Chateaux

One of the four towers at the Château de bon repos

Sophie's class outside the château

During the week Sophie's class went on an excursion to visit two chateaux near Grenoble. I was one of the few parents who went along to accompany the class, and my job was to translate for Sophie. I hope she learnt a little bit... It was certainly interesting for me!
The first château, le château du bon repos, was in ruins but undergoing restoration. The second, the château de sassenage, was lived in by family members until the 1970s when it was bequeathed to the Fondation Française. It now hosts functions (conferences, wedding receptions etc) to pay for its upkeep.

Sophie in front of the Château de Sassenage

Sophie (who wears glasses full time now)

The most interesting thing for me at the first chateau was the refrigerator. This is in the 1600's and there was a fridge in the kitchen! Not exactly a fridge as we have in our kitchen today, but it did the same job. Being close to the mountains there was a supply of ice and snow not far away, so ice would be hauled back to the chateau to fill a very well insulated section of the cellar which was reminiscent of a well. This was directly below the kitchen, where a series of ropes and pulleys allowed perishable foods to be suspended in the "fridge" and hauled out when needed.
At sassenage Sophie was fascinated by the "clyster stool". This little piece of furniture was used for cleansing the colon by administering an enema. I have found a picture on the internet which I have posted here because I didn't know how I would describe it. The user sits astride the stool and uses the syringe to pump water (or a solution), well, um... up his backside!

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