The Ruins of the Château de Coucy

leaky20 @leaky20September 2019 · 4 min read


On this weeks tour my wife and I visited the ruins of the château de Coucy located in the small and quaint little village of Coucy France.


The ruins sits on top of a large hill overlooking the Ailette valley and has some absolutely spectacular views.


My wife and I spent a few moments looking out over the valley below before actually touring the castle ruins.


Walking along the streets we noticed that the entire city of Coucy (or nearly all of it) is surrounded by large stone walls. The high elevation and the large walls would make the site an excellent military outpost, which is was during WWI.

Brief History and Tour


The castle was originally built in 1220 by the lord of Coucy, Enguerrand III. The castle consisted of several large towers surrounding a massive keep known as a donjon. At the time the keep was the tallest in the country, measuring 55 meters high and 35 meters across.


German soldiers occupied the site during the first world war in 1914. Three years later in 1917 before their retreat from the area, general Erich Ludendorf comanded that all of the towers on the site be destroyed, including the massive donjon, so that it could not be used by their enemies. The act understandably lead to severe public outcry.

Photographs from the early 1900s and artists renditions of the towers can be seen on site during the tour of the property.


The tour, which is self guided and free form, begins outside the castle itself where a small village once stood. Some parts of the grounds remain as they were, untouched and other parts have been restored for public access.


Visitors can climb steep sets of staircases onto the tops of the surrounding towers to look out over the valley below.


Or they can look out of the many notched windows that were specifically designed for archers to shoot arrows at approaching invaders.


Several of the staircases were naturally destroyed at the time of the sites destruction by the German soldiers. Looking up into the open air ceilings was still pretty cool though.



When the castle stood in all of its glory it was surrounds by an inner wall and mote and could only be accessed through one main gate and entranceway. The archway below is all that remains of the entrance.


It was actually really challenging for me to imagine the site being once an elaborate and ornately decorated palace. Luckily for me though, plaques were erected throughout the grounds with tidbits of the history of the castle along artists renditions of how the palace and rooms once looked.



One of the most interesting things to see on the tour is shown in this next image. At first glance it kind of just looks like a sewer or maybe a well. In reality though, this small hole in the ground had a rather medievil purpose.


The hole is actually an occulus and is the only access point to the dungeon that lies below. Captured prisoners would be lowered into the large empty space dungeon by ropes tied around their body.


Though there was a latrine built into the dungeon, virtually no light would have entered the space, so prisoners would have been in complete darkness for however long they were kept. The thought of it kind of gives me chills.


On a bit of a happier note I asked my wife if she thought should climb an 8 foot pedestal that I noticed on the grounds and pretend to be a statue. She responded with an ethusiastic yes and told me to strike a statue pose. I suck at being a statue but we both had a laugh nonetheless.


A large staircase led into the castle cellars which has now been converted into a simplistic photo and artifact gallery.


Photographs of the original castle line the walls along with remains of some of the stone architecture work.



and that concludes the tour of the château de Coucy. Thanks for reading and bye for now


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Folker @wulff-mediaSeptember 2019

I'm glad to see you two having a blast in the old world :-) I never tire of castles and all that history we have here. I only wish the EU gov'ts would begin to spend some money and make things more handicap accessible (where possible) - at least with parking lots where one doesn't have to hike a mile to get to the main attraction.

leaky20 @leaky20September 2019

Yeah the castles and history are amazing here. So are you from France, or very familiar with the country? I'm wondering if you have any suggestions on "must go" places to visit in France.

I agree about the accessibility issue. At one site we saw a random wheel chair ramp at a bathroom facility like in the middle of site. Both of us were like "that's great, but how on earth would a person in a wheel chair even get all the way up here to this spot in order to use it?" We only remembered walking up tons of steps to get there so unless there was another route with a ramp that we were unaware of, then that was a useless ramp.

Folker @wulff-mediaSeptember 2019

No, I'm not French, but I live in Saarland / Germany, right on the border. So Paris is closer than Berlin ;-) and I'm reasonably familiar with France. There are so many interesting places, how much time do you have and how far are you willing to drive?

leaky20 @leaky20September 2019

I see. We are here for two years. For a day trip we are willing to travel about 2.5 hours for a weekend 4-5, especially if we can take a train. We plan to visit some other countries as well. So we are pretty open.

Folker @wulff-mediaSeptember 2019

Paris and Reims should keep you pretty busy for a while :-) If you want some secret gems to see in Paris I can't do any better than Messy Nessy. Dig through her blog:

If you're into art, you might want to have a look at Le Moulin Jaune in Crécy-la-Chapelle just south of Meaux. That's a pretty weird place that is kinda secret. A tip for right now while the weather is still good.

Also, I'm partial to Alsace. Don't forget Strasbourg (5 h by car, probably easy by train) with the cathedral and its STUNNING astronomical clock. For the Christmas season I recommend NOT going to the famous market there as it is nothing but fighting the crowds. Go to the Alsacian villages near Colmar instead, which is much more romantic. (e.g. Kaysersberg, Riquewihr - 6 h by car)

That the country is littered with chateaux and castles you found out by now. Just west of Senlis is Gisors which I find pretty neat. Just a little further west is an unusual looking castle, the Château Gaillard (Les Andelys) overlooking the Seine. While you're at it, keep moving and visit Rouen in Normandy. That's only about 2 1/2 hours from Senlis by car.

Sorry, I don't do trains - too cumbersome for most destinations. BTW, when I'm out your way again let's see if we can meet up and have a glass of wine.

leaky20 @leaky20September 2019

Wow that was super helpful thank you!! That should keep us going for quite some time. I've added a bunch more places to my list.
Yeah let me know if you're out this way :)

Ophelia Fu @opheliafuSeptember 2019

The hole is actually an occulus and is the only access point to the dungeon that lies below. Captured prisoners would be lowered into the large empty space dungeon by ropes tied around their body.

Well that doesn't sound very pleasant! A thing of nightmares.

leaky20 @leaky20September 2019

I agree. I'm sure it would be terrifying down there


How on earth did you get up there on that pillar!? You can just sense the immense power of a mighty few from the ruins left. Seems to have been a family owned castle (not even a Cathar fortress). Not one I have visited (perhaps I never dared risk the weather by holidayin that far north in France; but your photos prove that a non-reason to be sure!) Thank you for introducing me to this castle and putting it on my to-do list.

leaky20 @leaky20September 2019

Thanks I'm glad that you liked it :)
Yeah so far all of my touring has been in Northern France. At some point we will venture south. The weather has been great here so far. This week has been quite rainy so far


What a tour @leaky20! It looks like it was a lovely day as well. The contrast of the blue sky with all the green makes the photos look even more impressive. Who doesn't like ruins? I am fascinated by them. I suppose that is because we (from the new old) don't have them. In the 1200's the native people in Brazil were not erecting walls to build castles! 😆

I love the walls but my favorite part of the tour is that scary dungeon! My goodness the way people were treated back in those days! Also, that statue on the 8-foot pedestal. How well preserved! Amazing :P

Thank you for sharing these with us. I enjoy them very much!
All the best to you two! :)

leaky20 @leaky20September 2019

Canada doesn't have a lot of ruins either. A lot of its history is pretty substandard compared to other parts of the world as well. It seems that the new countries do not have the same history - which also makes sense. I do not know much about Brazilian history. I have never been. Maybe one day.

Yeah the dungeon was my favourite part as well. It was interesting even though you cant actually see inside of it. I tried shining my flashlight (on my cell phone) into the hole but couldn't see anything. I was really afraid of dropping my phone as well lol.

Thanks for the comment and support, as always :)
Have a good day/week!

MAP10K @map10kSeptember 2019

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jzn @jznSeptember 2019

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leaky20 @leaky20September 2019

Thanks! I appreciate the support :)


Historical post,thanks for sharing❤️😊

zanetaviz @zanetavizSeptember 2019

A really beautiful château! :)