Ever heard of Gilles de Rais, the 15th-century convicted Breton serial killer? This knight and lord fought alongside Joan of Arc as a leader in the French army, then was hanged and burned as a murderous witch for sexually-driven murder of children. Actually, he probably inspired the legend of Bluebeard.
Lovely, I know. Welcome to… History, I suppose.
Well, we visited the castle where he started his career as a serial killer, the Château de Tiffauges.
This was my brother’s and his partner’s idea so I didn’t do any research whatsoever—I just showed up on the parking lot and took a sit in the rental minivan along with Mark, my mom and my brother’s partner’s mother and younger brother.
It took about an hour to reach the sleepy town of Tiffauges. The castle was just down the street, on a hill overlooking the Sèvre Nantaise and Crûme rivers.
There are two kinds of medieval castles in France—rebuilt (like in Nantes or Angers) or in ruins. There isn’t much left of the château de Tiffauges. It lay in ruins for years. In fact, many houses in town were built using stones from the castle.
However, it is brought to life with a series of animations, performances, shows, demonstrations and more. We had a very packed schedule with activities ranging from sword fights to trebuchet and medieval crane demonstrations. The atmosphere was really relaxed and the team shared historic stories with a lot of humour.
This was the first time I got to see medieval war machines working—not to mention having my vaccine passport checked by a knight.