Hello Internet Peoples!
If you study French, and you are doing a Year Abroad, I have no doubt that you’ve heard the word “profiter” a thousand times. Probably more. “Profiter” concerning your language, concerning work, concerning studying… but most importantly, concerning travelling. Living in Northern Ireland is flipping lovely at the best of times, but you are somewhat tied down to the island. As I’ve said to my colleagues here at school; you get on a train for three hours in France, and you could be in Belgium, Germany, who knows where! You get on a train for three hours where I live… you’re still in Ireland. SO, while being in France, I’ve vowed to travel as much as I can, to wherever I can.
My friend Bekah and I have thus given birth to “OAP Saturdays”, where each Saturday, we choose a somewhat nearby spot, and spend the day there. It’s honestly the best way to get out and see more of the country, plus being stuck in the same place all the time isn’t great. I mean, I LOVE Compiègne, but if you have spuds for dinner every night, they get a bit boring (this is also why I hate potatoes).
For our first OAP Adventure, we decided to go to Pierrefonds, a small village not far from our town. Ever since I arrived in France, people have been telling me to go there- it is the pride of the Picardie region!
Have you seen Merlin, that BBC show? If so, then you’ve seen the chateau de Pierrefonds, this huge, towering castle stuck in the middle of a tiny village. It’s a reconstruction, built in the 1800’s, but my goodness, it is amazing, and well worth seeing if you find yourself in the north of France.
To get to said spectacular lieu, we started in Compiègne at the train station. There is a bus which runs very infrequently, but at only two euros, you can forgive the lack of journeys. I 100% advise you to take the bus if you’re going to visit, because it takes the most fantastic route. We drove through nothing but trees and boring roads for about 25 minutes, and then, all of a sudden, we turned a corner and I literally stopped talking and my jaw dropped- THE CASTLE JUST APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE AND IT IS AMAZING. Nothing could prepare you for this magical sight. Bekah and I just sat there, not knowing whether to laugh or cry with delight.
We hopped off the bus, and headed straight for the castle. It is incredible from a distance, and beautiful from the inside too! We spent a while walking around the grounds, before heading to the gift shop to collect tickets to get inside. Handy tip- if you’re between 18-25 in France, and an EU resident, you’ll get in for free- yay! We spent a good two or more hours parousing the castle- the church, the design plans drawn up for the building, the statues, and the crypt. It was so cool! Bekah studies history, so she was having the most amazing time, and even as someone who isn’t THAT into history, I still really enjoyed it. Afterwards, we followed the donkey noises out of the grounds and towards a field with three of the CUTEST LITTLE DONKEYS i’ve ever seen.
Pierrefonds is a small place; there’s not much to do once you’ve seen the castle. So, we had lunch (which wasn’t great- I suggest taking a picnic!), and then we walked out of the village, where we found a set of steep steps. Well worth the climb I might add, because the view from the top is just glorious. After a bit of strolling around, we picked up some macarons from a tiny patisserie, which were the best macarons I’ve ever eaten in my entire life! I had one raspberry, and one violet- Bekah and I agreed that the violet was literally “life-changing”. A must-munch if you go!
After a quick trip back up to the gift shop for some castle postcards to remember our day, we headed back to the town hall, where we got the bus back to Compiègne.
My rating of Pierrefonds? 10/10.
- If you’re staying in Paris and want to see it, it’s super easy. Get the train from Gare du Nord to Compiègne, and from the station take the bus to Pierrefonds. Tickets can be bought on the bus. Be careful though- they’re very infrequent! Ask one of the locals if you’re not sure.
- Take lunch with you! The village is small, there’s two restaurants, and I wasn’t impressed. Take a sandwich and eat it at the top of the steps, with the best view of the whole place!
- Try the macarons. Worth. It.
- Bear in mind, this place is TINY. There isn’t much else to do, so take your time around the castle, or else it’ll be a pretty long day!
I hope this helps anyone interested in visiting Pierrefonds anytime soon! If you need ay further advice, please don’t hesitate to ask!