Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Another of our top four in September--Colette's house

Another of our top four in September--Colette's house

Reply

Nov 9th, 2018, 02:31 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,893
Another of our top four in September--Colette's house



I’m a slow planner and did not like the idea of being thrust into an area new to us, the Yonne, without a lot of advance planning. If there are historic monuments I want to see them all; ditto outstanding trees, mills, lavoirs, and good restaurants. With only a month to do research I couldn’t do much preparation, but I did find that Colette’s childhood home in Saint Sauveur en Puisaye was open to the public.

We arrived on market day, which gave my husband something to do while I went on the 11 euro tour. It looked like a thriving village. There’s another Colette-related museum in town that we didn’t go to.

I didn’t know that Colette was her surname, that her family were pariahs in the village because it was believed that Colette’s mother had killed her first husband (known locally as “the beast”), and that the family left town in sad circumstances. The things you learn on a house tour!
Coquelicot is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2018, 03:53 PM
  #2
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,893


Colette wrote lovingly about her mother, the house, and its garden. Her writings are the basis of the restoration. Today the building is full of charm and very very spruced up. It seems that Colette’s mother and stepfather spent lavishly on their home but weren’t good financial managers, so that when Colette’s older half-sister married, paying her dowry left them in dire straits. The brand-new wallpapers were based on remnants found on the walls of the house. The curtains, hand-made by two French textile companies, are spectacular. Each room was well furnished, including a few items that had been in the house during Colette’s time.

Coquelicot is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 9th, 2018, 04:06 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,893


Until she was 11, Colette slept in a narrow unheated room. (Her nurse slept next door and I assume that her room was probably even smaller and colder.) Her older half-sister had a very comfortable bedroom but only when the sister married did Colette move into it.

The last room we saw in the house was a small museum of memorabilia–publicity photos, family photos, statuettes, posters, and copies of her books. Colette was at first exploited by her husband, Willy, a publisher who forced her to write and then published her work under his name. We were told that Willy was a genius at “marketing”–it tickled me that they use that English word, with the accent on the last syllable.

The tour finished in the garden, which was as important as the house to Colette, and even in September it was full of bright flowers. The strangler wisteria that was there in Colette’s time is still trying to tear down the back wall of the garden.

The tour took about an hour and was all in French. They had given me a pamphlet in English to follow along with the tour, but I couldn't read, look, listen, and take photos at the same time, so I waited till after the tour to read it and found it very informative. Then we went to lunch on the square, where we watched the market close down.
Coquelicot is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 11:27 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,592
What a coincidence. I just sat down to work out some details for our 4 week September trip ro Alsace & northern Burgundy. On Sept 17 we'll do an overnight trip from our gite near Auxerre to Sancerre - passing through & visiting St Fargeau & chateau, the "being built" medieval village of Chantier Medieval de Guedelon, and perhaps Ch Ratilly and Saint Sauveur en Puisaye. Your photographs and descriptions here are much better than those in the Michelin Green Guide - so the Collette museum is a "must stop". Her real name is Sidonie Gabrielle Colette.


What day is market day in town??? Did you visit any other of the sites I mentioned above?


Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Nov 10th, 2018 at 11:34 AM.
StuDudley is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 11:53 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,592
Rats!! The Colette museum is closed Tuesday Sept 17. It's only 1 hr from our Gite, so I'll have to visit it on another outing. That day (Sept 17) was already too "loaded" with 3 castles, a farm, a village, plus Colette & Sancerre.


Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 12:47 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,893
Stu, Saint Sauveur en Puisaye's market is Wednesday. We had intended to go to Guedelon that day (it's another of our top four from our September trip) but it was closed Wednesdays in September, so we decided on Colette's house and lucked into the market. My husband had time to see the whole town while I took the house tour. Our Michelin guide is so old it doesn't mentioned this museum; just the one in the chateau, which we were advised to skip.

As I said to Annhig in my Guedelon thread, we thought St Fargeau was oversold (to us) and would have liked it better if we'd just come across it. Now I hope I'm not overselling Saint Sauveur!

On the Guedelon thread I mentioned some other towns we visited in the area. Who knows, you may even have a burning desire to see the museum of agricultural machinery that my husband loved.
Coquelicot is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 01:07 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,893

View of part of the garden from the kitchen
Coquelicot is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 02:29 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,592
I read your Guedelon post. Seems like there was a large crowd - and we hate large crowds. Do you recommend that we get there as soon as it opens at 10AM to avoid the crowds?? Also, I totally re-did my plan to visit Colette/Guedelon/Ch.Ratilly/St.Fargeau on the overnight to Sancerre - and I now plan to visit all these sites on a separate day trip from our gite (1 hr away). But it still seems like a "too packed" day. How much time did you spent at Guedelon???


Did you visit the chateau and farm at St. Fargeau - or did you only visit the town??



We've visited dozens of "old tool" museums throughout France. About a year ago, my wife & I agreed that "dozens" is enough. We're not seeing anything new.



Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 03:39 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,437
There's a wonderful film out now about Colette starring Keira Knightly.
https://bleeckerstreetmedia.com/colette
MaineGG is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 03:45 PM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,893
Stu, the site of Guedelon is so big that it never felt crowded at all, except for the gift shop. We spent 5 1/2 hours there in all. We never spend that long anywhere, which is a sign of how much we loved the place. If/when we go back, we'll try to go on a day when there are tours in English. Our French is decent, but we'd have gotten more out of the visit with an English-speaking guide.

Your day of Colette/Guedelon/Ch. Ratilly/St Fargeau seems overloaded to me. Of course you two may have more stamina than we do.

We only visited the town center of St Fargeau. At this point in our travels, a chateau really has to grab us and this one didn't.

It's good to know your limitations. I've sworn off farm machinery museums, myself.

MaineGG, the museum guide told us about the movie and I've added it to our Netflix queue. Good to know that you liked it.
Coquelicot is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 10th, 2018, 05:12 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,592
It is going in my Netflix queue also.


5 1/2 hrs in Guedelon??? We spent 3 1/2 hrs at Poul Fetan in Brittany this year & thought that was a lot of time. My wife speaks French & she took the tour in French while I had lunch. We'll have to visit the Guedelon region early in our 2 weeks - in case we need to return.


Castles are something we never get tired of. We "maxed out" on church things about 5 years ago - but we've never tied of castles. We made 2 trips to Versailles this past Sept/Oct.


Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 11th, 2018, 04:42 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 382
Thank you for posting this. I grew up reading the Claudine books and I did not even know Colette's house was available for viewing.
ToujoursVoyager is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 12th, 2018, 04:54 AM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,893
Toujours, the house only opened in 2016. One thing I didn't mention was that there are no velvet ropes. You can walk around each room as the guide is explaining it and can take a close look at anything you want. There are plenty of beautiful things to admire.
Coquelicot is online now  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:13 PM.