Once upon a dream…


Princesses, glass slippers and a cat in fashionable footwear- these stories were dreamt up in a land not so far far away. Rosie Khdir explores the creations of Charles Perrault and his architectural inspirations.

Remember those stories you heard as a child about a cat wearing boots, of a young princess being put in a coma, and one losing her glass slipper? They may seem like they are from another world but in actually fact they are just across the Channel!

Charles Perrault was a seventeenth century writer, most renowned for his creation of the fairytale genre. He is responsible for works such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots which were all combined in a collection entitled The Tales of Mother Goose. Paris born Perrault had visions of telling simple stories with morals and magic and used the beautiful palaces around him to inspire his work.

Château d’Ussé is a breath-taking castle just outside the city of Tours in a village called Rigny Ussé, which is just a few hours’ drive from Caen. It is said that Perrault envisioned this as the setting for his famous story, Sleeping Beauty. A great resemblance can be seen between this magnificent white stone turreted building and the famous castle in the Disney feature film Sleeping Beauty and the also one featured in Disneyland parks.

This chateau provides a delightful day out and is particularly wonderful for children as there is actually a Sleeping Beauty tour. This tour shows you scenes from the story staged in various rooms using elaborately dressed mannequins. There are also two beautiful chapels, stables and an exhibition showing “La vie de château” (life in the castle).

Perrault was also greatly inspired by Château d’Oiron, an impressive old royal residence just 4 hours’ drive from Caen. This was where he based his Puss in Boots fairytale, a story which stressed the importance of attire, the possession of countenance and a savoir faire attitude. The Marquis de Caravaz, Claude Gouffier who inhabited the palace in the mid-1550s was said to be Perrault’s model for the character “Marquis be Carabas” in the book.

The building has now been transformed into a museum of Curiosities and Wonders. The Exhibition includes 80 pieces by world famous artists that are based on the history and architecture of the building. It also has much of its original decoration including gothic columns, a renaissance gateway and a gallery of paintings depicting scenes from the Trojan wars.

France is full of beautiful castles and palaces but if you want yours with a bit of magic, then why not visit the chateaus from the land of fairytales.


Image credit: flo21

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