Thursday, 24 February 2011

Chateau Neuf (Var) Anno 1995

The ruined village Chateau Neuf -
Jorgen Faxholm: Oil on Canvass 2011, 50x40cm
Just north of Nice are the remains of a fortified village. It takes a cheek-biting drive along narrow serpentine roads through a rather barren landscape to get there, but that was the whole idea 500 years ago, when general access would have been nigh on impossible. It must have been a cold existence in the winter and a life without running water in the summer - but what don't humans do in order to stay alive? Anything would be preferable compared to a life as slaves in a North African hell-hole.
The name is as old as the village: Chateau Neuf!!
It was abandoned already in the 16th C. - an indication of it's general inhospitable location.
Today it is an enchanting place, mainly serving as a backdrop for the odd tourist's 'pique-nique'.

One of the ruined village towers.
Jorgen Faxholm: Oil on canvass 2011, 50x40cm.

Climbing the village is not without danger and it certainly demands firm boots on your feet. The towers and houses are slowly but surely crumbling away and nothing is done to preserve the site. On the top the remains of a stronghold can be found and every building on the slope appears to have been constructed with defense in mind. The whole area is covered in thick, prickly shrubs that eeke out a miserable and arid existence. The hill shows clear signs of terraces, where the inhabitants could grow a few vegetables or keep their cattle and sheep in times of attack.
I wouldn't be surprised if some of the villagers in the neighbouring hamlets still claim ownership of Chateau Neuf properties; the French have the most strange and convoluted inheritance system on earth and people prefer to let their houses fall into disrepair rather than selling them to strangers.

I love the place, though - but eerie it is!

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