Guédelon chantier médiéval

The Guédelon adventure > The story begins...

The story begins...

An introduction

The story begins...

The team

The scientific approach

An educational site

Guided tour

Michel Guyot

© Saint-Fargeau castle

© Saint-Fargeau castle

Michel Guyot, owner and restorer of Saint Fargeau Castle in Yonne, is the man behind this idée folle

 

In 1979, Michel's, and his brother Jacques', childhood passion for historic buildings led them to buy Saint Fargeau castle for a few thousand francs.  Back then, the castle was in a state of near dereliction: miles of roofing to repair, the roof timbers in dire need of attention, the walls cracking. In order to raise funds for the restoration work, the brothers enlisted the help of the local community and staged a grand scale re-enactment of the castle's history. Over the last 20 years the money raised from these performances has secured the future of Saint Fargeau castle.

© Arrabloy castle

© Arrabloy castle

The idea of building a castle from scratch was born at Saint Fargeau castle when an archaeological team, led by fortification expert Nicolas Faucherre, presented Michel Guyot with the results of the survey they had carried out on the castle's medieval origins. This study brought  to light the 13th-century castle buried within the red brick walls of Saint Fargeau. It was this discovery which inspired the idea of building a fortress and bringing a medieval construction site to life in order to better understand how builders really worked in the 13th century.

 

Michel Guyot is also involved in holding back the ravages of time at Arrabloy castle in the Loiret.

© Guédelon in 1998

© Guédelon in 1998

"It's a real pleasure to find these stones, scattered by time, and to re-assemble them once more. When I succeed, it's a real blessing. It's a great feeling to be a small link in the chain; to contribute to preserving part of our heritage."

Go to the website: More information about Saint-Fargeau castle

Maryline Martin

© Guédelon

© Guédelon

Maryline MARTIN

Maryline Martin, Guédelon's dynamic director general, was the first to believe in the viability of Michel Guyot's crazy scheme.  After graduating in History of Art and Oriental Languages from Paris in the 1980s, a series of short-term jobs led her to a post in an important US import-export company. Her energy and inherent management skills were quickly recognized and she went on to spend twelve years working in all areas of management within the rapidly expanding business.

After the birth of her daughter Lou, Maryline took a career break, to concentrate on the quality of her family life.  In 1992 she returned to her childhood home in Puisaye. Combining her social and environmental concerns she founded Emeraude: a large organization specializing in river and forest maintenance and dedicated to retraining and reintegrating the long-term unemployed into the workplace.  It was in the winter of 1995 that Michel Guyot first discussed his hairbrain scheme with her. 

She was immediately convinced it could be done and with all her usual drive pushed the project forward. "What excited me about this project was making a long term commitment to people.  It meant we could offer training, meaningful work and a real future."

 

If the Guédelon dream was to become a reality, finding financial backing was essential.  Maryline set out to secure that backing: filling in the necessary paperwork, networking and negotiating with potential partners.  Her dogged determination paid off and she obtained sufficient funds to buy the land, pay the first salaries and build the entrance barn to welcome visitors.

 

With all the initial hurdles overcome, Guédelon was a dream no more.  Confident that the project was on a sure footing, she sought to bring onboard a number of trusty Emeraude staff.  They were to make up the first team of paid employees at Guédelon. "Guédelon is built on the strength of the castle's foundations of course, but also on the strength of that team". 

 

The site opened to the public on May 1st 1998.

 

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