A Couple Bought an Abandoned 18th Century French Chateau. You’ll Never Believe What They Found Inside.
In 2013, American husband and wife team Phil and Susan Babcock bought a decaying fairytale mansion in the Midi-Pyrénées that had been sitting on the market for four years. They started a blog to document the revival of the 18th century neoclassical relic. Their goal was to restore it to it’s original glory while maintaining as much of it’s original materials as possible. Susan herself spearheaded the renovation work for this historical monument, digging through the rubble with her bare hands.
Given the chateau’s staggering 94 rooms, it’s no surprise that every day led to a new magical discovery; 13th-century paintwork covering the walls and ceiling beams in it’s gallows, secret passageways under the floorboards. However, it wasn’t until day 34 that Phil and Susan made the most breathtaking discovery of all.
While moving aside some old boards that had been placed up against a door adjacent to the master bedroom Phil and Susan discovered something truly extraordinary: a perfectly preserved 18th century ball pit.
Phil and Susan were blown away by their discovery. Ball pits were known as a sign of prosperity for French nobility in the 18th century, attracting the crème de la crème of French celebrities for lavish parties. The sheer history in just one neoclassical ball pit is truly inconceivable.
Phil and Susan removed their shoes. Phil was the first to jump in. “Cannonball!” he exclaimed while hugging his legs to his chest.
“That was a big splash!” said Susan, impressed by the shower of colorful, hollow plastic balls.
“Everybody knows there’s no better way to make a big splash than a cannonball,” said Phil. They were off to a good start.
Then it was Susan’s turn to jump in. “Here I come! There better not be any naughty boys hiding down there in the ball pit!,” Susan joked, as it was in her nature to poke fun at Phil. Susan did a big belly flop into the ball pit and immediately started burrowing her way down into the balls. As the balls began to surround her body, she felt the bittersweet sting of childhood nostalgia, as well as the historic past of centuries old France.
When Susan came up for fresh air, Phil bopped her in the head with an orange ball. “Hey, watch it!,” said Susan, affectionately.
“I’ll watch it when I feel like it!,” said Phil. Phil had the tendency to be something of a brat, but Susan found this trait endearing in Phil. For it was this rebellious quality that empowered Phil to seek out the necessary permits from the French authorities that ultimately led them to their fortuitous discovery. Looking at Phil, Susan couldn’t help but feel delight.
Susan threw a handful of balls up into the air above her and Phil’s head. “What’d you do that for, silly butt?,” said Phil.
“I know you are, but what am I?,” retorted Susan, cleverly.
“Hey! There’s only two of us here, and I’m not a silly butt. I know that much!,” said Phil. The two laughed a great deal.
While attempting to swim the backstroke, Phil made yet another discovery within the balls: a decaying 18th century band-aid. Phil took a moment to ruminate on the possibility that the coagulated blood crust he held in his hand could very well have belonged to French Enlightenment writer, Voltaire. After a moment, he tossed the bandage over his shoulder and continued to pretend-swim.
Susan did a front flip into the balls, disregarding the safety rules scrolled onto a placard on the outside of the ball pit. “That was a good job, Susan,” Phil complimented. “Today you did a very good job.”
The two frolicked about in the ball pit until they barely had any energy left. They velcroed up their sneakers and made their way out to the courtyard to relax. As the perfectly preserved animatronic jug band bears they had discovered earlier in the week began to play the great composers of the 18th century, Phil and Susan stared into each other’s eyes, knowing that they had made the investment of a lifetime.
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