Somehow utterly fail to meet my exploring partner for the day. Stuck in traffic trying to get out of Paris. Down the 104. Wrong exit. Followed with half an hour in the impossible spaghetti scramble-tangle of highways surrounding the French capital. Take a wrong turn in Melun, end up traversing mile after mile of acre-spanning gray socialist concrete high-rise neighborhoods.
Get lost again in a forest by the river. End up trying to interpret directions from the lovely-but-crazy cat lady and her brood of evil-eyed feline minions. Finally find my target, and end up with not enough time for more than a cursory inspection, jumpy from the imagined pickaxe-armed groundskeeper approaching in his rickety Renault, run for the wall only to startle the hell out of a nice lesbian couple trying to figure out how to get into the castle grounds, end up having a lovely chat with them. Get back into the car, stuck in traffic again on the way to Paris.
Failed again, goddammit. This hobby is about 50% frustration. Instead of the expected haul of fantastic photos taken inside an abandoned château, I have some wet boots and mud stained trousers to show for my efforts.
The story of my life, lost in transit. Forever trying to find my way, screaming at a wildly insufficient Michelin map balanced precariously on my lap.
And, of course, some pretty neat pictures of a sad-looking mansion in an advanced state of decrepitude, collapsing silently on itself by the side of the highway.
The owners appear to be putting some effort into restoring the old side buildings as residences, the cyclone fence cordoning off the construction site neatly abutting the grand mansion as if to pointedly exclude it from the rebirth going on.
Inside, all is collapsed, and only small parts of the ceilings in one of the wings remain intact. Even the cellar looks to be full of fallen debris, leaving the rusty padlocked chain barring one of the few somewhat intact doors as a bit of a cruel joke, sort of like the highway speed limit signs you encounter while crawling through the countryside in an interminable traffic jam.
Even the graffitos had a hard time getting to high-up walls with enough integrity to merit a quick, nervous scrawl while paying rapt attention to the sounds of creaking support beams or crumbling plaster to indicate the sort of avalanche that has turned much of the house into a pile of wreckage.
But the shape is still there, its bones rising grandly against the countryside, a sort of dignified remnant of glory days long gone.