We were driving around through the countryside and I was doing the map reading. My friend, who has a solid military background, has taught me how to do it and over the years I have become quite good at it. It was a nice and sunny day and we were looking for Balleroy castle. Maybe you know it or have visited it yourself. We had been following a ‘route Nationale’ (N) for a while when a signpost with the name of the château instructed us to turn right. The large ‘route Nationale’ became a ‘Départementale’ (D), which very soon turned into an even narrower ‘route Communale’ (C). Pretty soon it became a dust road that let us straight into the woods and fields.
The neatly trimmed and manicured gardens of Balleroy castle in Normandy.
We ventured on … realizing that we were probably trespassing. From the stables came the noise of neighing horses and the stamping of hooves. In the house nothing stirred. We stopped by the end of the driveway leading to the main house. A high wall with a wooden gate surrounded the whole property. There was no way of getting out of there, except by the gate.
We were just starting to panic, when a van towing a horse trailer rounded the corner of the stables and drove in the direction of the gate. My friend put the car into gear and slowly followed the van at a distance. It stopped by the gate and the driver got out. He typed a code on the small keyboard by the side of the gate. When he turned around to get back into his van, he noticed our car. He signalled and mouthed “Vous voulez sortir?” (you want to get out?). When we nodded ‘yes’, the guy signaled us to follow him. The gate opened automatically and we quickly did as instructed, before further questions were asked.
Apparently we had missed the turn to the château’s main entrance and had involuntarily ventured into its ‘haras’ (horse stables). This, however, was private property and definitely not open to the public. After this little incident, we easily found the entrance to the castle and spent a lovely time exploring the neatly trimmed and manicured gardens.