LOIRE CHÂTEAUX, FRANCE
«MAY 2015»

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

The holidays to France focussed mainly on a visit to several of the famous Loire castles. At the end the trip our total would be nine, of several sizes and significance. We visited from two locations, Fontevraud and Montrichard.

The Châteaux of the Loire Valley is part of the architectural heritage of the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours along the Loire River in France.
They illustrate the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment on French thought and design in the Loire Valley.
By the middle of the 16th century, King Francois I had shifted the center of power in France from the Loire back to the ancient capital of Paris. With him went the great architects, but the Loire Valley continued to be the place where most of the French royalty preferred to spend the bulk of their time.

There is no universally accepted definition for inclusion in 'proper society' as a 'Château of the Loire'. The main criterion for inclusion is generally that the château must be sited on the Loire river or one of its tributaries (such as the Maine, Cher, Indre, Creuse or Loir).

 

 

MONTREUIL-BELLAY

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau
The Château de Montreuil-Bellay (in the town of Montreuil-Bellay) is in fact not located on the Loire but
rather on a hill on the banks of the Thouet River, which is a contributary of the Loire river.
It has been built on the site of a Gallo-Roman village.

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau
During the medieval period the property, consisting of more than 1.000 acres (4.0 km2), was part of a group
of 32 villages near-by that created the then known as 'L'Anjou'. The castle has a 'Plantagenet connection'
(11th century) and thus fitted in the theme we had loosely applied to this trip.

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau
Over centuries within the medieval walls a palace-like building was raised. Ownership of the castle changed
several times. During the French Revolution the castle was seized by the revolutionary government and used
as a prison for women, suspected of being royalists. In 1822 the property was acquired by
Saumur businessman Adrien Niveleau, who divided the huge property into rental units.

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau

For an additional ticket of 6,- euro per person we could join a guided tour through the interiors, but I don't
like guided tours (not sure if it was only in French, quite possibly, but did not bother to ask) so we
only visited the exterior of Montreuil-Bellay Castle, which we enjoyed.

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau
More than a nice view: Château de Montreuil-Bellay is also the name of a premium wine made on the property!
(The above information was learned from Wikipedia)

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau
Overlooking the river and town.

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau
A very nice 'castle garden'.

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau
From the castle wall looking back towards the castle.

Montreuil-Bellay Chateau

 
 

 

SAUMUR CHATEAU

Saumur Castle on the Loire
Saumur castle is close to Montreuil-Bellay castle and en route to our place of stay in Fontevraud. So we
took it in our stride, so to speak. The Château de Saumur overlooks the confluence of the Loire and the Thouet.
In 1026 it came into the hands of Fulk Nerra, count of Anjou, who bequeathed it to his Plantagenet heirs.
Following its destruction in 1067, the castle was rebuilt by Henry II of England in the later 12th century.
As we can see on the photo, serious renovations are taking place.

Saumur Castle on the Loire

Saumur Castle on the Loire
This model shows how it once was, converted from a castle prepared for siege to a palace.

Saumur Castle on the Loire
A beautiful view. Below photo was taken from that bridge in the distance, across the river.
Saumur Castle on the Loire
Saumur castle overlooking the region.

Saumur Castle on the Loire
The interior had beautiful tapestries and wooden furniture carved with intricate decorations.
In 1621 the castle was converted into an army barracks. Nearly 2 centuries later it was converted into
a state prison under Napoleon Bonaparte. In the first part of the 20th century, the city of Saumur
acquired the castle and began a restoration program to house the museum of the decorative arts.

Saumur Castle on the Loire

Saumur Castle on the Loire
A detail of the above tapestry.

Saumur Castle on the Loire
Even the ceilings had fine decorations.

Saumur Castle on the Loire

Saumur Castle on the Loire
Beautifully tiled floor.

Saumur Castle on the Loire
Intricate and complex wooden carving.

 

 

CHâTEAU DE LANGEAIS

Langeais Castle (Loire Chateaux)

Château de Langeais
First we will have a look at the gardens

Château de Langeais
Plants and herbs on the higher level.

Château de Langeais
The way scaffolding was built many years ago

Château de Langeais
View on the lower gardens, the town and the river beyond

The Château de Langeais is a medieval castle, rebuilt as a château, in Indre-et-Loire, France, built on a promontory created by the small valley of the Roumer River at the opening to the Loire Valley.

Founded in 992 by Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou, the castle was soon attacked by Odo I, Count of Blois. After the unsuccessful attack, the now-ruined stone keep was built; it is one of the earliest datable stone examples of a keep. Between 994 and 996 the castle was besieged unsuccessfully twice more. During the conflict between the counts of Anjou and Blois, the castle changed hands several times, and in 1038 Fulk captured the castle again.

After it was destroyed during the Hundred Years' War, King Louis XI (1461–1483) rebuilt Château de Langeais into what today is one of the best known examples of late medieval architecture.
Wikipedia

 

Château de Langeais
It seems all the castles we visited had renovations going on. Probably a good thing, but still..

Under the Plantagenet kings, the château was fortified and expanded by Richard I of England (King Richard 'Lionheart'). However, King Philippe II of France recaptured the château in 1206. Eventually though, during the Hundred Years' War, the English destroyed it.
The château was rebuilt around 1465, during the reign of King Louis XI.

Château de Langeais
Boys will be boys!

Château de Langeais
A lay-out of the castle. Time we had a look inside.

In 1886, Jacques Siegfried bought Château Langeais and began a restoration program. He installed an outstanding collection of tapestries and furnishings; he bequeathed the château to the
Institut de France which still owns it today.

Château de Langeais
Jacques Siegfried aimed to keep the most significant event that took place
in Langeais Castle alive: the royal marriage of Charlesl VIII and Anne of Brittany
in the year 1491.
We will see that this castle most significant details are the tapestries and tiled floors.
The heraldry of Anne is depicted in the tiles on the floor: the tails of the Breton ermine.
We also see the French fleur-de-lis, the heraldry of King Charles VIII.

The official marriage between Anne and King Charles VIII of France was celebrated in the Great Hall of the Château de Langeais on 06Dec1491, at dawn.
The ceremony was concluded discreetly and urgently because it was technically illegal until Pope Innocent VIII, in exchange for substantial concessions, validated the union on 15Feb1492 and granted the annulment to the marriage by proxywith Maximilian and also give the dispensation for the marriage with Charles VIII, needed because the King and Anne were related in the forbidden fourth degree of consanguinity.
The marriage contract provided that the spouse who outlived the other would retain possession of Brittany; however, it also stipulated that if Charles VIII died without male heirs, Anne would marry his successor, thus ensuring the French kings a second chance to permanently annex Brittany!
Wikipedia

 

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
Another fine tapestry in the dining hall (end XV-century)

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
The table has been set!

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
Note the beautifully tiled floor again.
In the Middle Ages a bedroom was not just for sleeping, work was done there too, guests were received here
and there was dining too. Hence the rich decorations to impress others.
Only in the 15th century the bedroom was turned into a room for that specific use.

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
Schoolkids get a guided tour and it seems she is doing good as the kids hang on to every word

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
Obviously this bedroom accommodated small children too

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
Beautifully decorated furniture

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
The weaving was done on apparatus such as this. Note the paper with drawing that was to be used as exemple.

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)
In a very dark room, saving the priceless tapestries from harm by (sun)light, hung these 9 tapestries

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)

Château de Langeais (Loire castles)

 

 

 

LINKS of the various pages reporting on this trip
FRANCE 2015
HONFLEUR
RENNES
LOIRE CHATEAUX: Brézé & Montsoreau & Villandry
LOIRE CHATEAUX: Chenonceau & Loches & Beauregard
ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE

EXTERNAL LINKS:
en.wikipedia.org:_Châteaux of the Loire Valley
en.wikipedia.org _ List_of_castles_in_France