Somewhere in France, a photographer tentatively explores an abandoned chateau. He moves from room to room, amazed and enchanted by what he finds. Then, he stumbles upon the living room, its walls covered in dusty relics from a bygone age. And in the corner, something truly incredible catches his eye.
Florian Michaud is an urban explorer and photographer who hails from Paris. In his search for the perfect shot, he spends much of his time staking out derelict locations around France.
According to Michaud, this can be a lengthy process. “There’s a long stage of investigation before I can take pictures,” he explained to Media Drum World. Often, however, his expeditions turn up nothing of interest, and the photographer returns home empty-handed.
Though in fact, what Michaud is searching for are properties that give off the appearance of having been deserted overnight. Indeed, derelict mansions and chateaus filled with personal belongings are his holy grail. As he explained, “I’m especially fascinated by places where everything’s still standing, as if inhabitants simply vanished.”
One day, though, Michaud struck gold. While exploring an undisclosed location somewhere in France, he came across an incredible abandoned chateau. And inside, moreover, were all the elements of his dream location. So, using his Nikon D750 camera, Michaud started snapping away.
As he began to explore, Michaud must have soon realized that the abode he had stumbled upon was a relic seemingly frozen in time. It also quickly became clear that the opulent home may well have once belonged to a collector. And this collector, it seemed, likely specialized in war memorabilia.
In the once-grand living room, dusty books and a peeling globe sat on a cluttered tabletop in front of a red velvet chair. On the walls, meanwhile, the flags of British-linked nations were clearly displayed.
Indeed, the U.K.’s Union Jack and the U.S.’ Stars and Stripes adorned the walls, along with the New Zealand flag and the British ensign on a red background. The latter is the flag commonly flown by ships belonging to the British Merchant Navy, as well as private vessels.
The large room also housed antique furniture, portraits, artwork, beautiful brocade wallpaper and a wood-burning stove. The real centerpiece, however, was the bulky, imposing cannon that took up an entire corner.
Equipped with two huge wheels and a narrow muzzle, the cannon clearly dated back to a period long before the high-tech machine guns and drones of modern warfare. And it wasn’t the only treasure that Michaud found as he explored the chateau. In fact, the whole place looked like it could have been a museum.
Michaud’s photographs show luxurious bedrooms replete with faded, striped curtains and embroidered quilts. In one, the case for a musical instrument sits quietly abandoned on the bed – matching, in an eerie way, the painted violin motif on the wall.
In another, discarded sheets and rugs still give off an opulent feel, while a crown and sword can be seen balanced on top of a display cabinet. But could these relics provide a hint as to what illustrious inhabitants might once have called this chateau home?
Meanwhile, elsewhere, Michaud captured an abandoned billiards table in a dusty room. A torn map hangs from the wall behind it, while a Napoleonic eagle statuette enjoys pride of place next to a roulette wheel on a stone mantel.
And in one photograph, Michaud even captured an ornate clock in a glass case, its hands mysteriously frozen at a few minutes past midnight. In another, moreover, he reveals the grand sweep of the chateau’s staircase, with its wrought metal balustrades and steps thick with dust and debris.
One strange feature that Michaud photographed is the stunning mural that seemingly takes up an entire wall in one of the chateau’s hallways. It features, strangely enough, a number of people in Renaissance-era garb. And what’s more, the mural appears to be remarkably well preserved – although, admittedly, it is not known exactly how long ago it was painted.
But as well as the beautiful memorabilia and artwork strewn about the house, Michaud stumbled across a real mystery. Interestingly, hidden inside the carved-out shell of a book was a strange electrical device. Could it have been used to spy on the inhabitants of the chateau, or did it have some other nefarious purpose?
And although Michaud doesn’t seem to have revealed any more specific details about the chateau as of yet, his images certainly give the impression that it has lain abandoned for a number of years. However, some commenters online have cast doubt on the photographer’s claims.
Indeed, some have suggested that Michaud’s photographs are too perfectly composed to be the result of a genuine discovery. Pointing out things like fold marks in the flags, a lack of debris and a strangely placed chimney stack, they have accused Michaud of staging the photos to give the impression of an abandoned chateau.
But although Michaud seemingly hasn’t responded directly to such criticisms, he has insisted that it is his perseverance that allows him to find such remarkable locations. He explained, “Eventually, as I am very persistent, I end up finding a place that’s been forgotten yet become magical and off-beat.”
Michaud clearly feels a connection with the chateau’s distressed and abandoned state, no matter how authentic it might be. He insisted, “It vibrates with something powerful and out of the ordinary that triggers in me an overwhelming flow of creative ideas and awakens an urge to simply catch the moment.”