November 25, 2009

ÇA MARCHE !

I have always thought that first impressions are immensely important. It can take an awful lot of hard work to undo a bad impression. The first few moments of anything are the critical ones. From the moment I stepped inside the museum building I was enthralled.
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First of all, we were greeted by a familiar and friendly face. The lady on the reception desk selling tickets and giving information had been our tour guide at the château at Azay le Ferron the previous summer. She was brilliant there. We were pleased to see her here.


Inside, the lighting is good and the colours are soft, making you feel you have entered somewhere special, to be enjoyed and savoured in a leisurely way. There are some display cases on the ground floor and having taken those in we descended the magnificent modern staircase to the lower ground floor. Here there are hundreds of objects on display and some innovative ways of dispensing information.




The whole atmosphere is serene and welcoming. The old features blend superbly well with the new. We struggled a bit with some of the exhibits as everything was in French. We don't have an issue with this ourselves, as we are steadily learning more of the language, but some people have apparently commented that the museum will not appeal to foreign visitors unless everything is at least translated into English as well. There will be some interesting debate on this, no doubt.


I must admit, I personally can't stay absorbed in pre-history for too long as it is not my favourite subject and I have never been one for reading every word in the display cases. Nevertheless I could appreciate what a brilliant job had been done. I was perfectly happy to drift from one display to another, just dipping in here and there to see what was on show.


The general ambience of the place is very comfortable. In one area there was a fascinating video playing, showing exactly how skilled people had to be to in order to make tools from the silex.





We then went back up the beautiful staircase to the upper floor and for me this is where the transformation happened. Here, the modern design of the building all makes sense.


This is a huge open space with exhibits in alcoves and corners here and there. Large windows give light to the space and access to views over the village and the land behind the château. The colours are cool and calm and entice you to linger longer to take it all in and celebrate the heritage of the village and its surroundings. The modern lines and shapes of the interior reflect rather than imitate the old part of the château.



A lovely old doorway leads into a beautifully decorated gallery with more displays which are arranged particularly well for children. In fact I felt that children were very well catered for in the whole place, without detracting from the quality of the experience for serious students, as can often happen.


The first floor is where we found the old pictures of the château and village. Also information about the gruesome discovery of the sarcophagi in the grounds and about various changes to the château and museum in recent years. Apparently a large part of the "donjon" fell down in 1988.


Our tour of the musem over, we descended the stairs back to the ground floor and stepped out into the sunshine. The grey clouds had gone and the late afternoon light was perfect for some more photos and for just leaning over the wall, taking in every detail of the view over the village rooftops.



One of them was ours. I was really proud to be able to say that. We left the château behind and spent the last evening of our holiday packing up and eating up for the journey home the next day. We're just counting the days until our next visit and looking forward to living "au pied de notre château" for a while again.

7 comments:

  1. It certainly looks well done. Maybe this summer we'll get it together to actually go inside!

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  2. I love this mix of ancient and modern architecture, particularly on your first picture.
    I'll have to visit this place one day!

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  3. Roll on next weekend when I can see it for myself, can't wait! Lovely photos Jean, you were right it does look amazing, certainly very different to how I remember it.

    Gail

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  4. I was impressed that stone tools from the Grand Pressigny area were traded all around Europe.

    Lack of signage is supposedly why we got a special entrance price in September.

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  5. Walt and Thib - you would enjoy it I'm sure. Definitely worth the trip.

    Gail - lucky you to be there next week. Will you be spending Christmas in LGP?

    Ken - vraiment !

    Carolyn - it was the same in October. They still had some objects in packing cases waiting to be displayed. I wonder if the work is finished now.

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  6. WOW ! I never expected that! Absolutely fabulous!

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