18. Guédelon Project

I know a number of my students are keen historians and budding archaeologists and this TV programme will be right up your street, I am sure. The Guédelon project in Burgundy, building a medieval castle from scratch using tools, materials and techniques from the period is a fascinating place to visit. We had the pleasure of going there last October for a couple of days and it is a kind of step back in time that I rarely have experienced. The added advantage is that my niece, Sophie, is a carpenter on the project and so was able to show us around from the inside and we were able to see her at work.

My students are familiar with Sophie’s story as it is one of these zigzagging career lines that I talk about to them. After a Prépa Littéraire of two years, she completed a History degree. She then went to Poland on a European programme, working with children and adults. She also became involved in restoring graveyards in Ukraine, rebuilding and restoring. A year in England as a language assistant and some charity and humanitarian work led her to want to learn a trade, to be useful to society in a manual way. She went back to school (with mainly 15-16 year old boys) and served a 2 year apprenticeship with a carpenter, obtaining her CAP at the end of it. She is currently working at Guédelon for eight months of the year and travelling around the world for the remaining months : Martinique and the surrounding islands last year, India this year …

I love quoting Sophie to my students because she is proof that a life is built up of various small experiences and choices. It is so rare to know at the age of 16 what you want to do and then to go on and be actually doing it, having followed a perfectly straight line, ten years later.

The BBC has produced a series about the Guédelon project and the first episode was aired on Tuesday November 18th on BBC2 in England. A French version is apparently planned, but in the mean time, if you would like to know more, you can watch the English versions at YouTube links. It sure makes fascinating viewing and there is even a glimpse of Sophie near the beginning of episode 1 at 1’21 and you hear her voice (she says Yes !). She plays an active role in episode 4.

Enjoy !

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4 (with my niece, Sophie appearing)

Episode 5

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