Escaping Tonnerre, Wanderlust’s next stop on the Canal de Bourgogne was Tanlay. Though this commune is home to around a thousand residents one residence stands out, the Château de Tanlay. Separated from the rest of the community by a water-filled moat and a ring of gardens, the manor house is the central attraction in the town.
Tanlay’s chateau traces its roots through the Dukes of Burgundy whose footprint is heavy in this area of France. Though chateau is relatively modest in scale compared to many of France’s grand palaces, there still is plenty of living space. Indeed the building is occupied but the current owners only use part of the available living area; the other sections of the chateau are open to tourists on guided visits.
The inside of the chateau is interesting. Unlike France’s more famous chateaux, the interior of Tanlay’s stately home has not been heavily restored. Instead it is stuck in a mid to late 20th Century time capsule, displaying the last gasps of the aristocracy’s efforts to hold onto their way of life. Some attempts have been made to adapt the building to modern life. Electrical plugs and lights have been installed in places and the plumbing has been updated. Nevertheless it would take an enormous effort and a lot of money to bring the building up to a semblance of a modern standard. This is not a complaint. It is interesting to see the chateau in this state. It feels more authentic.
Though the inside of the chateau is intriguingly dowdy, the outside is spectacular. The structure is hidden from view from the street. Only after visitors enter the grounds via a passageway through le petit chateau and then turn left does the stately home comes into full view. At first the symmetry of the structure is striking. It must be impressive from the air. Moving closer the moat comes into view. On calm days the water filled moat serves as a mirror smooth reflecting pond that accents the structure.
In France brown signs along the autoroutes show the things that the area is famous for, the food, the wine, the geological features, and the historic monuments. Indeed, there is a brown placard along the A6, the Autoroute du Soleil, promoting the Chateau de Tanlay.
At 130 kilometers per hour we have passed by the road sign advertising Tanlay’s chateau several times. As with most of these signs, we’d wondered what we were missing. We’d like to have stopped and explored but our journey’s destination called; there was little chance to see Tanlay’s chateau or the other brown sign destinations no matter how much our curiosity has been piqued. At least now the mystery of Chateau de Tanlay has been removed. Now we wonder what we’ve missed all the times we whizzed by the other brown signs along the autoroutes.
Between Tonnerre and Tanlay there is 9 kilometers of canal with six locks. Wanderlust’s engine ran 3.7 hours. We arrived on the 19th of July 2016 and spent two nights.