In 2012 the usual peace and tranquility of Gevrey was abruptly shaken by news that its charming small chateau, owned by the same family since the Revolution, had been purchased by a billionaire casino owner from Macau - Sacre Bleu! National newspaper headlines led with scare stories such as ‘French nationals will soon be travelling to China to buy their beloved Burgundy’ and other more grisly nonsense.
However such fears were confounded, and a truck load of hats and a dictionary full of words consumed, when the new owner set out upon a thoughtful and considered renovation - even engaging the village history society! It appeared that a true lover of Burgundy, with very deep pockets, was prepared to commit the vast amount of money the restoration would require, over and beyond the initial 8m euro purchase price.
Is there anyone who has not walked into the Cathedral at Reims, or Notre Dame de Dijon, or just about any large medieval structure, and wondered - just how on earth did they do that? How did they build a structure like that with no cranes, modern scaffolding, theodolites, and so on? But build them they did, and those that have not been destroyed during wars, are still standing today, pretty much as they were 1,000 years ago. So perhaps there is something to learn from the skills and techniques of yesteryear?
Geudelon is in Burgundy, roughly half way between Paris and Gevrey. It is in the north western part of the region, an area rich in oak forests, with a plentiful supply of water and stone. It was here in 1998, that it was decided to construct a medieval castle - using only the building techniques and materials that would have been available in 1228. Crazy? Well maybe, but for the reasons indicated above, perhaps not. In any event, they are now about 8 years off finishing the project, which employs some 70 craftsmen, administrators and guides, and receives thousands of visitors a year from France and around the world. It is one of the most original and remarkable of 21c building projects, and a proud testament to French initiative. It also happens to be a castle built to the same design, and roughly the same proportions as Gevrey!
So perhaps when this team of medieval castle contractors become redundant in 2026, they can move to Gevrey and help to restore our precious relic from a bygone age!