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The Donjon of Vez: a medieval residence for contemporary artists

A Donjon (keep) in a small village in Picardy has survived barbarian invasions and the Hundred Years War. Today it enjoys a second life as a contemporary art museum, home to Daniel Buren’s colored windows, installations by Jean-Pierre Raynaud and gardens landscaped by Pascal Cribier.

Francis and Caroline Briest were looking for a second home in 1987. They had pictured themselves in Southern France, in a house nestled in the hills with vast bay windows opening out onto the sea. But while in Picardy for the weekend, the couple found a brochure advertising a medieval chateau for sale in a neighboring village.

The chateau of Vez stands in the eponymous village (pronounced “Vey”), which is home to 314 people halfway between Reims and Paris. Originally a Gallo-Roman stronghold erected to withstand barbarian invasions, Vez became the fief of the royal house of Valois in the fifth century. The chateau was fortified with a keep and ramparts during the Hundred Years War, and temporarily sheltered Joan of Arc. The chateau fell into disrepair at the start of the Renaissance, its corps de logis was dismantled and its stones used in the construction of nearby

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