A Hike Round a Medieval Castle

View of the castle from the motorhome aire at Coucy-le-Château Auffrique

A little over 30 km south of St-Quentin in the Aisne Department, lies the beautiful quiet village of Coucy-le-Château Auffrique and this is the destination we chose to spend the last day of 2018 and to welcome 2019, which turned out to be another hidden jewel on our winter trip.

Coucy-le-Château Auffrique owes its name to Coucy Enquerrand III, Lord of Coucy, who built the castle in the 13th century, and subsequently became an important stronghold in northern France. It was listed as a Historical Monument by the French Ministry of Culture in 1862. It was occupied by German troops during WWI, who unfortunately destroyed the keep and its 4 towers during their retreat in 1917, but, after some renovation, there is still much to enjoy here.

The view of the castle from the motorhome aire was so stunning that I just couldn’t wait to go and explore, so when Adonis decided to do a spot of fishing after lunch, I set off on my own and headed for that hill that was calling me loud and clear.

Making my way up the hill to the castle

After a bit of a climb, I soon discovered that the castle was much larger than I had imagined judging by the view from below, but this made me even more determined and keen to see it all and walk all the way round.

Getting closer to the castle walls, too large to fit into a picture

For no particular reason, I decided to turn right here and have a closer look at the impressive tower in the corner.

Looking back and below, I could see our parking spot and its gorgeous surroundings.

If you look closely, you can see our motorhome just right of centre


I carried on following the wall to my right to discover new wonders.

There are information signs at various points along the ramparts’ walk to let you know where you are. The first one I came across was the Soissons Gate.

The Soissons’s Tower
Soissons’s Tower and Gate with information centre just on the other side of gate

I went into the village briefly and found a visitors’ information centre just beyond the gate, but I was more interested in carrying on with my walk around the castle walls and that is exactly what I did.

The next wonder I came across was the Lhermitte walls and tower and I just had to climb those stairs and enjoy the views all around.

Lhermitte and ramparts
Impressive views from the Lhermitte, but the light was beginning to fade


Lhermitte, ramparts and tower
The only tower on the eastern section of the city walls

A little further, the walls become alive with vegetation, giving them a mysterious look that had me thinking about knights in shiny armour defending the citadel’s treasures.

Nature playing with man-made wonders

Turning yet another corner, I was soon to reach the end of the ramparts’s walk by the Laon’s Gate and towers. These are still very impressive and beautiful, even after their destruction in 1917, and I wish I had seen them in their former glory.

The light was fading fast by now, giving everything and eery look, and I thought it would be a good idea to head back.

I wonder what’s in there!

The path let me through a wooded area and I got slightly apprehensive when I found myself at this junction, so far from the castle walls, fearing I had taken a bad turn somewhere and was hopelessly lost. How did that happen?

But I plodded on and it wasn’t long before I joined the road downhill right by the castle walls again.

And I think I found an alternative access to the citadel! But I was too tired and worried about the fading light to explore any further.

I loved this mysterious stairs.

Just a little further I was very relieved to find this festive tree and motorhome aire sign and I knew I was safely back on the right track.

I couldn’t wait to tell Adonis all about it and we decided to go back the following morning and do it all over again.

Our first walk and selfie of 2019

After completing the walk, we cut through the Laon’s Gate to explore the village further, but being 1st January all the shops were closed and we returned back to base. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find these goats grazing on the hill by the ramparts.

Coucy-le-Château Auffrique is a delightful little village and we thought we would like to return later on in the year and perhaps enjoy some of the amenities it has to offer. We will be back for sure.


14 thoughts on “A Hike Round a Medieval Castle

  1. I’d love to join you on your jaunts sometime, but I doubt I could keep up with you – ha! I like all the photos, especially the one of nature playing with man-made wonders – and of course, you and Peter at the end. RIght now we are enjoying Discovering Britain on Acorn TV. I wonder if there is a comparable show about France.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to have you along on our hikes and I do stop often to take photos and read info, enjoy views, etc; that’s why it was getting dark towards the end. It should have taken 20 minutes, but I was well over an hour!
      I like the sound of that TV programme; I often watch documentaries about History or Geography. You might like a British programme called Coast: it started with the Geography and related local history of the coast of the British Isles, but then moved on to Europe and even Australia: fascinating!

      Like

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