Chateau Bagnole de Lorne

Photo and text by Gabrielle.

We’ve only been in France for a few days and have already seen a handful of castles. I love seeing them! Especially when they’re unexpected, almost hidden away. You’re driving along, happen to glance to your left at just the right time, and a Cinderella tower catches your eye off down the hill. Of course, you then immediately turn the car around and do a little exploring. : )

Though some of the chateaus in the area are still private residences, most seem to be owned by the town or city, or are part of the National Parks & Landmarks system. Many you can even rent out for parties or weddings. As we walk around the grounds or tour the insides, the kids talk about what it would be like to live there. It’s fun to imagine. How many bedrooms are there? Could it fit all the cousins if we lived there? Would we eat in fancy dining rooms instead of the kitchen? Ride around the grounds on horseback? June wonders if the people who lived there wore fancy dresses.

But during this trip, my thinking has shifted a bit. I’ve been listening to an audiobook with Ben Blair called What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly. In it, he talks about how an average citizen in our era has a much better quality of life than anyone who lived in these castles — say a hundred years ago. We have easier access to better quality food. We have better hygiene (including toilets and plumbing). We have better access to medical care. We have far better transportation — faster and more comfortable. We can heat or cool our homes easily. We have access to whole libraries of information in our phones.

Though I’d never thought of it myself, I tend to agree, and I find this line of thinking appealing. I’m generally in the camp of the-world-is-amazing-and-gets-better-every-day vs. the-world-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket (though I admit this political cycle has through me off a bit). What’s your take? Do you agree? Do you think you live better than royalty? Have you ever had the chance to tour a chateau? What did you think of it? Personally, I find the exteriors more appealing than the interiors.

P.S. — I realize the appeal of “royalty” for many people relates more to power and money than it does to quality of life, but I still think the idea that these days most people live better than royalty makes for an interesting shift in thinking.