Archive for January 11th, 2018

January 11, 2018

A town with a Royal story and a castle; Maintenon

We have been lucky enough to come to France, me since 1972, and my wife a native. Traveled all over the country even before the times of internet and photos and blogs; I try to put some of them in my blog now, not easy with the photos; but once in a while will like to remind of you the beauty of my belle France.

Let’s talk tonite about Maintenon.

You can come to this historical town and the castle of Royal repercussions only about 65 kms  (40 miles) from Paris and 47 kms ( 29 miles) from Versailles. From Versailles we rode into the D10 , running parallel to the Orangerie of the castle of Versailles that becomes out of town limits the N10 direction Rambouillet, once passing Rambouillet take the road D176 direction Epernon, and then take the road D906 direction Maintenon, free no tolls. From Paris you can drive on the A13 direction Rouen then the A12 , then back into the N10 and at Rambouillet take the D906 until Maintenon or by the A11 exit sortie 1 at Ablis direction Gallardon the Bailleau-Armenonville and follow signs to Maintenon. You can come by train from Montparnasse to the train station in Maintenon, on the line Paris-Montparnasse to Chartres.

A bit more history on the town from the city page translating tells us that the first name was known under Mestenon on a document dating from 1123AD and eventually Maintenon by 1415. It had two parish Churches ,one Saint-Nicolas and the other Saint-Pierre; split into the Duke of Noailles and Marshal of France for Saint Nicolas and the bishop for Saint Pierre. At the French revolution the town was part of the region of Chartres in the department of Eure-et-Loir No 28. By 1792, all properties were taken as national property including those belonging to the Church, and including the heritage of the Noailles family forcing many to immigrate. Today, Maintenon still belongs to the dept 28 Eure-et-Loir in the region of Centre-Val-de-Loire. The community agglomeration created was that of the Les Terrasses et Vallées de Maintenon which groups the towns of Bouglainval, Chartainvilliers, Houx, Maintenon, Mévoisins, Pierres, Saint-Piat, Soulaires, Villiers le Morhier ,and Yermenonville.

Some of the nice things to see here in my opinion are the Espace Maintenon at  1 ter rue de la ferté or 2 rue pierre sadorge , a building called the red house or « maison rouge »  simply because of the number of red bricks on its façade. It was ordered built by king  Louis XIV  at the end of the 17C that was given as a donation to Madame de Maintenon act done in November 1689. The other is the Thursday market which when I have gone to benefit from the wonderful local produce of the area. You have all sorts here from cheeses to  flowers, to meats and fish ; all done at the place Aristide Briand , and the place Noé , as well as place Omer Sadorge (under the covered market). There is, also, a unfinished aqueduct which can be seen behind the Castle started by king Louis XIV to eventually feed Versailles but sickness like malaria stop it in 1688; the nice portion there is in good condition.

However, the main thing to come here is the castle that really was here since the middle ages and was the first fortress of the count of Monfort. The castle was later rebuilt in a renaissance style from 1509 under the current owner, Jean Cottereau, superintendent treasurer of finances for king Louis XII, then François I, and then Henri II. The garden, park was done by André Le Nôtre; and Racine came here often to meditate and Vauban, the directed the aqueduct.  Eventually the Castle passes to the family of Noailles ,after the marriage of Françoise-Amable d’Aubigné to the Duke of Ayen ,the son of Marshal Noailles.  Even king Charles X on it’s way to exile, sleeps in the castle in 1830. The town was occupied by Prussians troops in 1870-1871; and on June 1940 the Nazis massacre about 50 Senegalese soldiers fighting for France here.  The official castle site is here:

You have several tourist sites that can give you more on the Castle of Maintenon, these are:

City of Maintenon tourism :

Dept 28 Tourist page :

The nearby Chartres tourist page :

The Rambouillet tourist page:

And of course, the main personage of the town and the title of Madame de Maintenon , we say wife of king Louis XIV was Françoise d’Aubigné, future marquise de Maintenon, born in the prison of Niort on November 27 1635 and the third child and oldest  of Constant d’Aubigné (1585-1647), and Jeanne de Cardilhac (1611-1652). Her father was in prison there for the murdered of his wife and the lover of her while seeing them together in 1619.  Constant had two child from this first wife but they died of young age. He eventually remarry with Jeanne de Cardilhac  in 1627 that already had given two sons Constant (1629-1646) , and Charles (1634-1703). She had accepted to follow her husband in prison and it is under these conditions that Françoise was born.

Shortly afterward, she was baptized Catholic the religion of her mother and had as godparents François de la Rochefoucauld  and Suzanne de Baudéan.  She was named Françoise in honor of her godfather.  However, the parents of Françoise had no money and gave her to be raised by her Aunt ,who was protestant Artémise and already mother of children in the Château de Mursay, that helped raised here for five years from 1638 to 1643.  Françoise considered her as the mother. In 1643, after the death of Cardinal Richelieu, her bio father Constant is release from prison and Françoise comes back to the family.  After some efforts on fortunes in the Caribbean and coming back to France, she catches the attention of King Louis XIV , and in 1683, after the death of the queen the king married Madame de Maintenon  on the night of October 9-10 of 1683.

In 1674, Françoise d’Aubigné, future Madame de Maintenon buys the castle, lands and farms thanks to the help of the King Louis XIV, to think of retired in her last days here. The future extension of the castle after 1686 were done for the aqueduct and the visits by the king to the castle; after 1688 ,she will never lived in the castle.

In 1686, Madame de Maintenon creates at Saint-Cyr closer to Versailles a school for young girls of noble heritage but poor that allows them a good education. During the last years of her life, she goes thru many sad moments such as many of her friends and family like in  1711 the Grand Dauphin, only legitimate child of King Louis XIV dies, in 1712,the Duke of Burgundy or Duc de Bourgogne and his wife as well as their sons the Duke of Brittany were taken by the smallpox.  In 1715, few days before the death of the King, Madame de Maintenon retires from the Court to  Saint-Cyr, where she died four years later on April 15 1719.  Her remains were profane in 1793 during the French revolution but were later found after WWII and brought back to Saint Cyr in 1969.

The house where it was the prison , she lived with her father and was born in at Niort still can be visited today at the dept of Deux Sévres no 79 here:

I leave here with one photo of the castle taken from back in the garden and back side of the Castle of Maintenon, there are more in the previous post on this castle above. Enjoy my belle France, Cheers!!!


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