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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.