I recently visited the medieval castle of La Roche Jagu in Brittany, France, and came across a beautifully maintained site with grounds overlooking the valley of the Trieux river. The grounds on their own are worth a visit. They include different types of plants and trees, a beautiful medieval garden and fantastic views over the valley and river.
The interior of the castle has been renovated with care, with the new clearly defined from original elements yet also complementary. The ground floor is home to a permanent exhibition on medieval life, including smells and sounds that would have been common at the time. Herbs and other plants are encased inside furniture and visitors can lift a lid to smell them while information is displayed underneath. Single headphones held inside a medieval looking leather pouch provide phonic sensations. It’s all understated and tasteful and the guided visit is excellent, focussing on everyday knowledge and facts that enable visitors to immerse themselves in medieval life.
The upper floors are home to temporary exhibitions and this year’s was on design with spatial design contributions from Matali Crasset and M Studio, and intricate paper architecture and designs from Ingrid Siliakus, Beatrice Coron, Maud Vantours and Mathilde Nivet. The curator made great use of the spaces with paper designs hung to catch the light or delicately stand out against the rough stone wall. Matali Crasset created a timber air balloon for a school to use as part of a playground and colourful floor cushions for kids to lie on while watching an animated film. My personal favourite though was M Studio’s sensory space. It was full of surprises. Floors that looked hard were soft underfoot while objects that looked like lamps were actually aromatic plant holders of the head.