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LES ECHOS

The Anti-Disneyland, A French Castle Built On Authenticity

Guédelon, an attraction in Burgundy, recreates the Middle Ages in a way that aims to make visitors smarter while they're having fun.

Quarrymen work in the shade at Guédelon Castle, in Treigny, France.
Quarrymen work in the shade at Guédelon Castle, in Treigny, France.
Claire Bommelaer

TREIGNY — The place was an old quarry of ferruginous sandstone in a Burgundy forest 20 years ago. Now, the construction site of Guédelon castle, in central France, is packed with people and the parking lot is filled with a flock of buses. A crazy project at first glance, the construction of a fortified castle using 13th-century techniques has become one of France's major tourist attractions with about 300,000 visitors every year. The site is particularly popular among teachers, who see Guédelon as a golden opportunity to get their pupils interested in the Middle Ages. There are also older visitors, moved by the sight of blacksmiths and basket weavers working with ancient techniques, and numerous families.

Thirty-five people work on the site eight months out of the year, and 35 others assist them together with 600 volunteers nicknamed the "temporary builders." The latter, retired DIY enthusiasts or senior managers looking for a purpose, are allowed in at a rate of five days per season per person. Believe it or not, people are rushing to mix sand-and-lime mortar or to carry braided baskets filled with stones.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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