Where is Madame?
Seeing this chair, you would think that, just a moment ago, someone was sat here reading. And all the other furniture, heavy wood with intricate carving made between the 18th century and the Jugendstil period, also appears to be in regular use. The Renaissance chateau in Beaufort has a magic all of its own. Make an appointment for a guided tour that brings the past to life.
A magazine about roses lies on the little table. Next to it, a vase containing blooms of the queen of flowers. You would think that, just a moment ago, someone was sat here reading. And all the other furniture, heavy wood with intricate carving made between the 18th century and the Jugendstil period, also appears to be in regular use. Everywhere there are pens and other writing materials, books, ticking clocks, fine crockery and silver cutlery. However, the lady of the house will not be coming back – Madame Anne-Marie Linckels passed away in 2012.
Nevertheless, visitors to the Renaissance chateau in Beaufort still get the feeling that she may come through the door at any moment. Today, you can visit her rooms and walk in the footsteps of the chatelaine, who lived here until her ninety-eighth year. The black telephone with a dial that she used to use, the photographs – everything has been kept the same. You can literally feel the presence of Madame Linckels here.
That is without doubt partly thanks to Jacqueline Kuijpers, who looks after it all and guides visitors through the rooms. She knew the old lady very well; she was her housekeeper and she has lived in the chateau since 1980. Indeed, she has spent most of her life here and saw her three children grow up within its extensive walls; she knows every corner of the castle and, of course, the garden, too. “Madame Linckels loved roses. Right to the end, she used to go to the rose beds to make sure that the plants were being pruned correctly. Until the very end of her life, she prepared her food herself in the chateau kitchen. Then she would go to dine alone in the big dining room. All with a little help from us, the staff, of course,” recalls Jacqueline Kuijpers with a smile.
Madame was a strict disciplinarian but also very kindhearted, says the housekeeper, who sometimes almost regarded herself as one of the family. She too grieved over the death of the Linckels’ only son, who died of cancer in the 1970s at the age of just 52.
Every walk through the chateau brings back many memories for Jacqueline Kuijpers, and visitors sense that. At the same time, of course, they learn a lot about the somewhat complicated history of the chateau and of the nearby fortified castle that was built at the end of the 12th century and can also be visited: turbulent times, betrayals, struggles for independence. The round defensive tower offered good views of the surroundings, from which an attack could be expected at any time.
From the road, you first see the older fortified castle built in the Middle Ages. It has not been lived in for a very long time and has become derelict over the years. However, the “new” castle, which was built in the middle of the 17th century, is in very good condition. Madame Linckels’ husband Edmond became the owner of both castles in 1928, and from then on the ruined fortifications were also protected from further collapse.
Because there was no direct heir following the death of the Linckels’ only son, both castles are now owned by the state. However, the dowager Anne-Marie Linckels was allowed to live there until the end of her days. During the later years of Madame Linckels’ life, Jacqueline Kuijpers and her husband took over the production of the famous blackcurrant liqueur made at Beaufort. The blackcurrants are now grown nearby, between Eppeldorf and Beaufort, after having been imported from France for a number of years. About 5,000 litres of the liqueur are produced every year in the castle’s vaulted cellars. Visitors can taste and purchase the liqueur in the medieval castle. It can be enjoyed cold with mineral water, as a Kir Royal, or in hot water as a kind of grog.
A liqueur like that restores your strength – perhaps after a fascinating but scary visit to the castle dungeon, where the heavy chains on the wall give you an idea of just how terrible it must have been to be left to rot in this damp, cold, mouldy place. What a contrast to the magnificent rooms of the Renaissance chateau with their floral wallpapers, whence you take home a slight feeling of sadness – and the faint scent of roses.
During the main season, from March until 3 November, guided tours of the Renaissance chateau take place regularly by appointment for groups of eight people or more. Visitors are welcome to explore the medieval castle ruins by themselves, but tours can also be booked for groups or individuals. The medieval castle is closed during the winter months.
Three local tips:
Hike along the 112-kilometre-long Mullerthal Trail, acknowledged among the “Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe”, which goes past Beaufort.
Blackcurrant liqueur: you can taste and buy the famous Beaufort blackcurrant liqueur in the ruined medieval castle.
Rock’n Classics is a series of concerts initiated by the Friends of Beaufort Castle. In the spring and summer, various bands, such as Suzanne Vega, perform here against the picturesque backdrop.
Leaf through Luci Online: