Everyone knows that the 100 Years War between the French House of Valois and the English Plantagenets lasted longer than a hundred years. But, did you know that the final and decisive battle was not that far from Bordeaux, that European city certainly well-known for its wine.
Today the town of Castillon la Bataille, to the east of Bordeaux, marks the spot where in 1453 the French defeated the English. Then, the now popular region of Aquitaine – which had been under English authority for some three centuries – returned to French rule. Each year during the summer this defining battle is re-enacted on a 17-acre site, that is in fact within gunshot of the original battle field, with over 700 participants, including 50 on horseback, in a two-hour long show of stunts and special effects that will captivate people of all ages.
The show begins with actors re-enacting scenes of everyday life from medieval times. These rather sedate scenes then give way to staged fighting with hand-to-hand combat and some highly-skilled horsemanship. Narration is in French, but this is kept to a minimum. And, as the re-enactment of the battle is primarily visual, the story is not lost if you do not understand French.
For anyone sightseeing in Bordeaux, or the surrounding area, this re-enactment is a must see-attraction. The show starts at half past ten in the evening, but I advise getting there at least an hour beforehand for a good parking space (free) and seat. While picnics are permitted, there is also a medieval ‘tavern’ that serves meals from 19.30 pm. If you arrive early in the evening, do not forget to take something warm for later on.
More of these photographs of the event, as well as any necessary practical information such as the dates, can be seen on the re-enactment’s website.