In 2017, a new multidisciplinary place was born in the middle of the Yonne countryside. After various professional and social experiences abroad, the brilliant and audacious Jessica Angel decided to set up her dream project in a castle that was yearning to find a buyer. She created Le Château du Feÿ there, an experiment, a utopia or...the societal model of tomorrow?
Jessica had a plan in mind, to found an organized societal model that would respond to the essential issues of our time. Creating a unique multidisciplinary place, as close as possible to nature, a theater for community experiences...this is what inspired this native Parisian. It's done! Since 2017, the idea has taken shape despite the hazards of the economic situation. Installed in a 17th century castle in the heart of the Burgundy countryside, between Sens and Joigny in the Yonne, the Château du Feÿ welcomes residents, celebrates ceremonies, promotes the arts and safeguards heritage and living things. Through her various programs, Jessica shapes the principles of a modern Utopia invested in a historic building. Everything is linked: the past joins the future, city dwellers settle in the countryside, modernity is anchored in rurality, the local agrees with the global...
Jessica, can you tell us about your life until the opening of the Château du Feÿ?
"I grew up in Paris, in an intellectual environment where culture and open-mindedness held a preponderant place. From the age of four, my parents sent me to summer camps or took me on trips with them. In 2008, I left to study architecture at EPFL in Lausanne, then I took a master's degree in Yale University. I did internships in Berlin and New York, and afterwards, I worked in San Francisco and Ivory Coast ... I have always been attracted by the concept of community life, specialization of my studies and subject of human experimentation; I lived, among other things, for a year at the Embassy Network in San Francisco, an intentional community that brings together 14 residents exploring co-creation, sharing, the common use of space and new ways of being in solidarity with each other. with the others...I wanted to import this model in France. "
Why did you choose the Burgundy countryside as the location for your project?
" Several factors led me to want to install a concept of community in the countryside. Being involved in certain activist causes, I thought about a solution that could respond to all the issues that were dear to my heart. First of all, I am very concerned about ecology and climate issues. Living closer to nature was therefore essential. Moreover, I firmly believe in the future of rurality which, given the difficulties of our time, will lead more and more people to go into exile, to return to live in the middle of nature. Moreover, following the rise of populism and the correlation between political choice and geolocation, the idea emerged of moving a certain intelligentsia to the countryside, statistically more rooted in cities than in remote corners. Finally, the concern for heritage conservation pushed me to look for a building that needed to be restored. When I presented my project to my parents, they told me about a castle for sale for more than ten years near their country house in Yonne. I came straight to visit it and love at first sight was immediate. The Château gathered all the conditions to become the laboratory of the concrete Utopia of which I dreamed."
What programs do you offer at the Château?
" Thanks to the lockdown, we created Feÿtopia. In winter, from November to April, the castle is transformed into a residential hotel with the aim of experimenting with new, more sustainable and resilient ways of living and working in order to rethink the world of tomorrow. The experience is closely linked to the Embassy of San Francisco. You have to be co-opted to join the group. The audience is cosmopolitan and made up of artists, entrepreneurs, activists, academics and engineers.
We close the winter period with Feÿarts, an alternative micro-festival that brings together architects, contemporary artists, music, projection, gastronomy, etc. In total, the work of around a hundred artists is presented each year. The next edition will take place from May 3 to 5, 2024.
Then begins the period of events and receptions. We host weddings, seminars etc. This activity sustains an entire local economy (caterers, florists, taxis, artisans, etc.) and has brought in around 2.5 million euros to the region since it opened!
Finally, the fourth activity of the Château is Les ami.e.s du Feÿ, a non-profit association that focuses on ecological and heritage issues. We collaborate with the local region through educational and cultural events and projects. We organize trainings on permaculture and self-sufficiency, and are currently working with landscape architect Eric Lenoir with the aim of becoming a Remarkable Garden.
All of the Château's activities have enabled us to create twelve full-time jobs."
I firmly believe in the future of rurality which, given the difficulties of our time, will lead more and more people to go into exile, to return to live in the middle of nature.
Can you describe your neo-rural routine to us?
" My routine differs according to the seasons but I try to run through the fields and the forest two to three times a week. I also spend time in the vegetable garden weeding, planting... And another point that one would not imagine in a neo-rural routine, I spend a lot of time meeting people. My life is social here!"
What are the advantages and disadvantages of your life in the countryside?
" I am now in constant contact with the elements of nature and I am ultra-connected to the outdoors, which is super fulfilling! Also, I eat vegetables from the garden and that's great! I noticed that I manage my schedule very well (better) even though it is very busy. It is totally inconceivable for me to return to live in the city.
The only "negative" point of this rural life is the dependence on the car. The Château is located in the countryside and we would be very limited without a vehicle. "
What are your favorite places in Yonne that you recommend to Mastic readers?
" For Art: La Métairie Bruyère which offers tours and workshops in typical farmhouses of Puisaye.
Food side: La Madeleine, an incredible starred restaurant in Sens with a lot of kindness and generosity.
For Accommodation: Le Domaine du Roncemay is a hotel-spa located in a park, and golfer's paradise.
On the ballad side: Old Joigny with its half-timbered houses from the 16th to the 18th centuries, carved with statues of protective saints or grapes or barrels.
Which Instagram accounts inspire you?
" I love the @villalena which brings together holiday accommodation, an organic farm, a restaurant, a foundation and an art gallery and a decoration shop in the wild Tuscany, the @barnhotel, a country hotel, restaurant and stud farm nestled in the woods of the Chevreuse Valley and @lechateaudelahauteborde a retreat in the heart of the Loire Valley celebrating art and nature I am also the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center @bmcmuseum and the @wassaicproject, a artist residency, exhibition space and education center located in the hamlet of Wassaic in the state of New York."
Château du Feÿ
Lieu-dit, 89300 Villecien
crédit photos © chateau du feÿ + mentions spéciales sous photo