Jonzac, France: La Ville Médiévale

All good things must come to an end, just like my French holiday to the South-West of France. I have been to Bordeaux, Cognac and Chatenet so far, but it was time to revisit one final place. Jonzac, a medieval and endearing town was my last adventure for this trip. Make the great escape to the town where castles, rivers and cute French bakeries exist! J, are you in? Oui, oui! 


I went to Jonzac during May 2013, that French medieval town once before back in January 2011. During my latest trip to France I wanted to recapture the essence of this quaint town during a brighter time, back in January 2011 my first visit was frigidly cold! Arriving at the top of Jonzac's town centre I saw the charm and beauty of this place staring right back at me, it definitely a case of Déjà vu. Calling Jonzac a town might be the wrong way to describe this small French area, as I would call Jonzac a community within the castle walls of the chateau that's still standing to present day. Standing before me was a majestic chateau, honestly you could not see anything that was more French! Within the castle walls there stood the 'Hôtel de Ville', known as the 'town hall' in French. In France the 'Hôtel de Ville' handles local town issues functioning like a local council when explained in English. J, Je l'ai aimé!

I felt something special as I walked through the castle's main entrance into the grand open air courtyard. This castle-like structure looked over the rest of the town, revealing the greener pastures that sit amongst the houses close to the river. C'est gentil! It was absolutely crazy to think that just five minutes away there is an out-of-town shopping centre, two large supermarkets and a McDonald's! In France, I found that consumerism never compromised the local charm of a place. Does Jonzac have the best of both worlds? Vraiment? Ce ne est pas très français! The 'Hôtel de Ville' was an attraction in itself even though its a council building! I didn't see much of Jonzac the first time around so I'm I got the chance to return. All this talk of forts made me think that Dudley is the nearest place from my hometown to have a castle! Dudley might well be closer to my hometown but let's not talk about right that place right now, Jonzac's got the look! Alors, quelle est la prochaine? Allons-y, J!


Jonzac showed me many cute cake shops, all of which sold a wide variety of cakes, breads  and all things sweet. In French the words 'Patisserie' and 'Confiserie' both translate to pastries and cakes. This sweet addition to Jonzac served the town perfectly. There's nothing quite like a French cake or bake, but to be honest I will have both if I have the choice. We've got Cafe Rouge but that French wannabe chain really doesn't cut it against the authentic establishments that are on offer in Jonzac! On the day I walked past this bakery, I noticed things were looking a little quiet but I can imagine during the summer months this place would be busy with people enjoying their French fancies! French culture marginialises different places that sell specific products, like bread from a 'Boulangerie' and meat from the 'Boucherie' Jonzac servi un petit sentiment de ville avec un bord cosmopolite. Oui! Maintenant, revenons?

France is one of those places that sets its own trends and doesn't want to emulate anything from its European neighbours for this small town of Jonzac possessed its own savoir faire! Anyway, I loved Jonzac's answer to 'Greggs' because it looked quintessentially French. I would love to see classy cake cafes in Bilston and around the West Midlands, maybe it would bring a bit of much needed sophistication to the high streets of England? I unfortunately didn't have a sweet treat from the cake shop pictured to the right because I went to McDonald's for a McFlurry before I arrived in Jonzac's town centre. I do feel bad now! Voyant un peu de vie était belle, le hameau Je étais dans était très calme! I am learning that the French make use of their local amenities, endorsing the small and independent businesses from what I've seen in the Poitou Charantes region of South West France. Love Jonzac, it sure serves medieval Realness like its neighbouring towns, I appreciated my afternoon! Oui, Jo!


Along with the kitsch and historical delights of Jonzac, I almost expected to see 'Belle' from Disney's 'Beauty and The Beast' walk past with a pile of books like she did in the film! I didn't see 'Belle' or 'Gaston' but held that vision in my head as I walked down the hill in the centre of Jonzac's old town. Disney fantasies aside I loved the winding streets of Jonzac's descending paths, leading the way to the main shopping streets. Each place I have visited during my French holiday have all been very unique, for instance Jonzac showed me something that made me feel like I was in another time period completely! Spending time with my paternal grandparents is always interesting, they are a funny pair! Word on the street was that most of Jonzac's architecture dates back to the 17th century, something that I had never seen before I had been to Jonzac. So, the question remains, where was 'Belle' really hiding? Où était Belle? 

France is a country of rivers because almost every town or city I have seen during this past week had its own river flowing through. 'La Seugne' river flows through the town of Jonzac, which has been captured to the right. I will be brutally honest to say that France does have some beautiful rivers, which have some very picturesque surroundings. Looking at the river that flows through Jonzac it looked less frozen compared to my 2011 visit. My visit to Jonzac the second time round was coming to an end but we had to find out what the river was called, all in the name of blogging! I originally thought that this river shared its name with the Parisian river called 'La Seine'. Honestly, it should be easier if you speak the language? My pops speaks French like a Parisian, everything always sounds so proper when he would tell me such words. I wouldn't rule out another visit to Jonzac, I would be bringing my Euros for those cakes! Jonzac, servir la réalité médiévale! Vous devriez visiter Jonzac déjà! 

Disney à Jonzac? Sacré Bleu!

Joseph Harrison

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