I have been reminiscing about the many castles I have had the opportunity to visit in my travels. I have seen large castles on hillsides, historic castles with fabled pasts, and some small insignificant ones. But Chateau d'Aigle in Switzerland is one that stands out in my memory as one of my favorites.
Aigle is a very small Swiss village in the French speaking area of Switzerland. When my ex partner and I were together most of our traveling was related to his professional meetings. He had one each year in Europe and two each year in the United States. For some reason that neither of us understood there was a meeting he needed to attend scheduled in a remote ski resort in Switzerland in the month of July 2003. The ski resort was Les Diablerets. The small village was empty in July except for people attending the conference. We took a train from Bern to the village a Aigle. Aigle is located at the bottom of a mountain below Les Diablerets. Other than this business meeting there is no way I would have ever ended up in Aigle so I am very grateful to whoever set up the meeting. There were not a lot of travel web sites available yet so our research was somewhat limited for the trip. We did buy a couple of travel guides but none of them had any information on Aigle or Les Diablerets. So everything we saw or encountered was a surprise to us. And I did not yet have a digital camera so all of these surprises were recorded on film. I did not have the option to take multiple photos of things I saw. I had a chance for a photo, and then hoping it would turn out, before taking a photo of the next location. Luckily most of my photos did turn out alright and I have since digitized and edited them to make them look their best.
|Aigle train station|
We changed trains at the tiny station in Aigle and took a very small mountain train up to Les Diablerets. On our journey, just outside of Aigle, we passed a small but beautiful castle. The castle sat in the middle of vineyard on the lower slopes of the mountain. It was breath taking. I knew the moment I saw it that I would be taking that train back down the mountain from Les Diablerets the first chance I had to visit the castle. So as soon as my ex's meeting commenced I took the first train the next day back down the mountain to Aigle.
|Bakery in Aigle|
I arrived in Aigle in time for lunch and I was quite hungry. I found a bakery located in the building in the photo above here. I met a very nice young woman who was working there. I wanted a ham sandwich, the kind they make in France with ham , cheese and a gherkin on a crunchy baguette. I walked into the bakery and could smell the bread. It was wonderful. I also wanted a chance to try out my limited French. I thought I was pretty good with few phrases. I tried to ask for ham sandwich and it must have come out all wrong because the young woman had no idea what I was trying to ask for and there was no English spoken in this village. So I tried to say it again and she still looked very puzzled. She tried to talk to me. I tried to talk to her. And neither of us were able to communicate with the other. We both laughed at ourselves. She finally let me come behind the counter and point to the items I wanted. When I started to point to the ham, then the cheese, she knew exactly what I wanted and made me the perfect sandwich. I left the bakery and walked over to bench in front of a church and ate my sandwich. I was surrounded by the mountains in a village where no one spoke English and I was having what I thought was the best sandwich ever. Then I just let myself get lost in the moment.
|The small road from Aigle to the Chateau|
After finishing my lunch I found the road out of the village that followed the railroad tracks in the direction of the castle I had seen the previous day. Once again I let my mind wander and I was in my own little world again walking down small streets in a remote area of Switzerland.
|The castle in the distance in the middle of a vineyard|
I got to the vineyards and there in the distance was the castle. I had no information on it. I did not know if it was open to the public or not. I just knew I wanted to see it and take some photos. When I arrived I found out it was open to the public. And also I found out there was a restaurant inside and a small bar serving wine from the vineyard. And there I was. Sitting in an old castle drinking wine made on the premises, surrounded by the beautiful Swiss alps. And once again I was in my own little fantasy world. Suddenly some people walked in all dressed in medieval costumes. It was almost like I was dreaming. Apparently they were filming a movie or commercial inside the castle that day. It could not have been more perfect.
The castle dates back to the 14th century. Although it seemed romantic and ideal to me the day I visited it has not always been the most desirable place to visit. In 1804, the castle was acquired by the community of Aigle and until 1976 it was used as a cantonal jail. One man's romance is another man's jail.