Archive for August 18th, 2019

August 18, 2019

Château de Brézé!

And on my wandering road warrior trips of my belle France I heard about this castle and decided to give it a run; very impressive. This is in what is normally call the Loire or valley of the kings but since France restructured its regions (for lack of history) there are now two parts of the Loire. This one is in the region of Pays de la Loire and the department 49 of Maine et Loire! I will be telling you a bit about the Château de Brézé!

First, there is the little town of Brézé that became on January 1, 2019 a town delegate of the new town of Bellevigne-les-Châteaux. The Castle of Brézé is a monument of which a vast underground gallery was recently discovered a castle under the castle. It also has the deepest dry moat in Europe with their 18 meters. And this is about what is in town really but worth alone the trip.

This is the city page on its heritage: City of Brézé on its heritage in French

There is plenty of free parking outside and you walk in with grandeur to the ticket office with the old stables on your left and the pigeon house right next door before you face on the beautiful castle of Brézé!

Breze

Breze

Breze

The château de Brézé, is a 16C castle located in the town of the same name 10 km south of Saumur. The particularity of the Château de Brézé lies in its troglodyte network located under the castle and in the ditches, comprising both parts of daily life (bakery, stables, silkworm) and military (drawbridge, walkway). The castle of Breze is a private property belonging to Jean de Colbert, son of the late Count Bernard de Colbert and the late Marquise Charlotte de Dreux-Breze. However, it is open to the public.

Breze

Its dry moats are the deepest in Europe at 18 meters. The stone of the construction was taken from the moat digging. It has a drawbridge and an underground network of the 12C, a troglodyte part. Renaissance style, it includes a large gallery, a Renaissance home and a clock tower. The cylindrical dovecote dating from the beginning of the 16C, of 3,700 balls (holes that serve as a nest for pigeons), is capped with a lantern dome. The orangery also has a lantern.

Breze

Breze

In 1448, Gilles de Maillé-Breze obtained from King René permission to strengthen the castle and dig ditches. The renaissance Italian-style castle and outbuildings were rebuilt in the early 16C by Arthur de Maillé. Urbain de Maillé Breze will be the first marquis after Louis XIII erected the estate in marquise in 1615. He marries Nicole du Plessis, sister of Richelieu and they will have two children Armand, grand admiral of France, who dies in Tuscany at the 27 years of age without posterity, and Claire-Clémence who married Louis II of Bourbon-Condé, the Grand Condé and he transmits this heritage in 1650. The Grand Condé takes the head of the Fronde, thus opposes the regency during the minority of the young Louis XIV and, in 1653, the castle is occupied by royal troops. In 1682, Condé will exchange the castle of Breze against La Galissonniere in Bere (Châteaubriant), owned by Thomas de Dreux. In 1685, Thomas de Dreux, advisor to the Parliament of Paris, was confirmed the title of Marquis de Breze by King Louis XIV. Following the marriage of Charlotte de Dreux-Breze with Count Bernard de Colbert in 1959, the property passed to the hands of the Colbert family who still lives there.

The Château de Brézé hosts the time of a weekend a tournament. This medieval joust brings visitors back to the days of armored knight battles. The show is livened up by multiple animations and workshops in the park of the castle, transformed for the occasion into a medieval village. The Château de Brézé is mentioned by Marcel Proust in the second part of “Du Côté de Guermantes”. In the novel, the castle is presented as having been the property of the late wife of the Baron de Charlus, who would then have made a gift to his sister, Madame de Saint-Loup. “Brézé, it’s royal!” says Charlus. This assertion of one of the characters of La Recherche and which appears as a Proustian fiction, is not entirely unfounded if one considers that Breze belonged a time to the Grand Condé who, by their relationship with Louis XIV (they were his cousins ​​first cousins) were what were called “princes of the blood” (of royal blood). Proust’s novel thus presents the castle of Breze as a Royal residence likely to be worth millions.

Breze

Official Chateau de Breze in English

Some remarkable photos you will see here are the ones on Louis XVII the son of king Louis XVI ,that was assassinated by the revolutionaries as well as that of Henri V to be, the late Count of Chambord! There are also of Louis XVI and Louis XVIII in the Grand Galerie!

Breze

King Louis XVII assassinated son of Louis XVI

Breze

Count of Chambord could have been king Henri V

In all it was a nice visit especially walking underground on what it is a castle under a castle with living quarters and even a space for a mini farm all dark lit up but very medieval indeed, worth the trip. There is wine tasting of the property and take home too lol!!

Breze

Breze

Breze

Hope you enjoy the trip on the wonderful Loire ,these places are about less than 3 hrs from my home and should come often even if I do , there is so much to see and castles to spend a lifetime visiting them and maybe not enough time lol! This one is a dandy and really off the beaten path for most, do see the Château de Brézé.

And of course at the end of the day between Fontevraud and coming to Brézé we were hungry on the road not many choices so we settle for the familiar La Boucherie steakhouse chain right at Bd Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny on the beltway D347 outside Saumur for our lunch of burgers, tagliatelles, mince meats with fries, red Saumur wine and expresso coffee for less than 14€ per person!! More on the resto here: La Boucherie at Saumur

And now ready to head back home! another dandy day in the beautiful Loire valley and there is more to come while we still driving around my belle France! Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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August 18, 2019

Fontevraud l’Abbaye!

So finally in the Loire region or regions as today it encompasses several departments and two regions of my  belle France. I am in Pays de la Loire region in the Maine et Loire dept 49 and needed to pay a visit to Fontevraud l’Abbaye or the Notre Dame Abbey of Fontevraud!

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

By now very accustomed to visit abbeys,  but this one was there only for king Richard and the rest well pretty empty.  Nevertheless we made good of the time by visiting two spots, more later.

Let me give you a bit of an introduction on the history and why need to come here. Bear with me please, it will be long.

The town of Fontevraud-l’Abbaye  is situated in the department of Maine-et-Loire ,no 49, in the Pays de la Loire region. just south of Saumur. At the limit of the regions of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Centre-Val de Loire, it is famous for its abbey Notre-Dame, dynastic necropolis of Plantagenets, one of the most important abbey complexes of Europe, at the crossroads of the departments of Maine-et-Loire, Indre-et-Loire and Vienne, as well as the regions Pays of the Loire, Centre-Val de Loire and Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

The foundation of the Abbey goes way back.  In 1096, Robert d’Arbrissel receives from Pope Urban II visiting Angers, a mission of preaching. He settled between 1099 and 1101, with the help of Peter II, bishop of Poitiers, in a valley named Fons Ebaudi and undertakes the foundations of the abbey. The first protector is the lord of Montsoreau, Gautier II de Montsoreau; then Ermengarde d’Anjou, member of the Angevin family. Daughter of Foulque the Réchin, it makes ratify by her brother, Foulque V, her gifts with the abbey of Fontevraud. She retired there around 1112. The foundation meets a great success very quickly. In 1115, Robert d’Arbrissel fixed the statutes of Fontevraud with the nuns. In the same year, he had the first abbess, named after the Angevin nobility, Petronille de Chemille.

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

This is a bit of history on the city page itself. City of Fontevraud l’Abbaye on heritage

A bit of history I like on the abbey of Fontevraud

The Royal Abbey Notre-Dame de Fontevraud is an old Benedictine abbey, seat of the order of Fontevraud, founded in 1101 by Robert d’Arbrissel on a 13 hectare site established on the Angevin border of Poitou and Touraine, it is one of the largest monastic cities of Europe.

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

The monastic complex today consists of two remaining monasteries of the original four. The most important is the Grand-Moûtier monastery, open to the public, which houses the abbey church, the Romanesque kitchen and the Saint-Benoît chapel of the 12C, as well as the cloister, the conventual buildings, including the chapter house, and infirmaries of the 16C. Some of the buildings today house seminar rooms. The Priory Saint-Lazare, whose church dates from the 12C, was transformed into a hotel residence.

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

The transformation of the abbey into a dynasty necropolis Plantagenets greatly contributes to its development. Henri II, married to Aliénor of Aquitaine in 1152, made his first visit in 1154. The couple entrusted to the abbey his two youngest children: Jeanne, born in 1165, and John, future king of England. He left the abbey after five years, while Jeanne did not leave until 1176, for her marriage. In 1180, Henry II financed the construction of the parish church of Fontevraud, the Church of St. Michael, built near the abbey. In 1189, morally and physically exhausted by the war waged by his sons and the King of France, Henry II died in Chinon. No provision had been made to prepare the funeral. Although the former king was able to talk about being buried in Grandmont, Limousin, it is difficult to transport the body in the middle of the summer and nobody wants to take the time to travel. Fontevraud is then chosen for convenience, to prepare for the burial in a hurry.

Richard the Lionheart (known more like this in France while in England more as Richard I) dies in 1199, in Chalus-Chabrol. On the choice of his mother Aliénor, the body whose heart and bowels were removed, is taken to Fontevraud and buried on alongside his father. On the other hand, his heart is buried in the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Rouen and his entrails presumably in the chapel of the ruined castle Chalus-Chabrol today. In 1200, back from Castile, Aliénor decides, at more than 80 years, to withdraw in a virtually final way to Fontevraud. She died four years later, in 1204 in Poitiers, and is buried alongside her husband, her son Richard and her daughter Jeanne. In 1250, Raymond, Count of Toulouse and son of Jeanne, is buried at his request to his mother. In 1254, Henry III, son of Jean, organizes the transfer of the remains of his mother Isabelle d’Angoulême, then buried in Angoumois at the Notre-Dame de la Couronne abbey, as far as Fontevraud. His heart is deposited there at his death.

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

The end of the Plantagenet empire puts the abbey in a delicate situation. To the financial difficulties is added the beginning of the Hundred Years War. In 1369, the abbey lost about 60% of its land rents, aggravating an already difficult financial situation. In 1670, the abbey has 230 nuns, 60 religious as well as many lay people in charge of the administration and the 4714 servants. The death of Jeanne-Baptiste will profoundly mark the fate of the abbey: the former abbess having not chosen a coadjutress as was the custom, the new abbess is then appointed by the king himself. In 1670, Louis XIV appointed at the head of the Abbey and Order Mary Magdalene Gabrielle de Rochechouart, sister of Madame de Montespan. In June 1738, the four younger girls of Louis XV arrive at Fontevraud where the king entrusts them to the education of the nuns. A new home is built in the west, the Bourbon home, completed in 1741, expanded new facilities in 1747. The daughters of Louis XV will stay until 1750.

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

The French revolution will bring the fatal blow to the abbey and the order of Fontevraud. The coup de grace arrives in 1789: the goods of the clergy are declared national property. In 1793, a troop enters the abbey despite the intervention of the guardian, and begins to loot and ransack the buildings. The sarcophagi and coffins of the vault of the abbesses are broken and the bones left abandoned or thrown away. To avoid further looting, the town rushed to sell the remaining property. The 106 former religious still residing in Fontevraud attend the ultimate dispersion of furniture and hammering blazons and signs of the old regime. In full reign of terror, the atmosphere is heavy and the former occupants of the abbey become suspicious in the eyes of the administration.

In 1804, Napoleon I signed a decree that transformed the abbey into a detention center, as well as those of Clairvaux and Mont Saint-Michel. The first prisoners arrived in 1812. The prison was officially opened in 1814. Most of the six hundred prisoners were evacuated at the closing of the prison, except about forty, employed in the maintenance of green spaces and the demolition of penitentiary facilities. They leave definitively the residual prison,to the La Madeleine, in 1985, date at which the places are returned to civil life.

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

From 1840, thanks to the action of Prosper Mérimée, Inspector General of Historical Monuments, the former Abbey of Fontevraud is listed on the first national list of classification of historical monuments. Gradually, several buildings are released from their assignment: the cloister in 1860, the refectory in 1882, the tower of Evrau and the abbey church, 90 meters long, at the beginning of the 20C, and are gradually restored. From the closing in 1963 to the end of the 20C, the almost uninterrupted restoration projects gave it the appearance that the visitor discovers from now on. The site becomes a permanent place for debates, exhibitions, shows and residencies for artists, particularly in the field of animation cinema. The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, Cultural Center of the West, is a member of the European Network of Cultural Encounter Centers.   You can see today the Le Grand-Moûtier , abbey Church , Cloister, Chapter House and Kitchen. Also , the Chapel of Saint-Benoît , nurseries and the priory of Saint-Lazare. And it is under construction a museum!

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

Fontevraud l'Abbaye

More on the Fontevraud abbey in the following webpages

Official Fontevraud abbey in English

Tourist office of Saumur on Royal Abbey of Fontevraud

Again my main reason for coming here was to see the coffin of king Richard the Lion Heart in addition to the royal story, I always love the movies depicting his story such as ben a Crusader, Robin Hood, and Ivanhoe. He has been depicted in countless movies and books, both in a fiction and non-fiction format. You may recall that Sean Connery played him in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Love them all! And of course, the fact that he was born in England, was King of England as Richard I, and buried in France wow!!! And on his French Plantagenet heritage, was Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Poitiers, Count of Maine and Earl of Anjou!! ok so worth it coming here ok ok!

Hope you enjoy the ride and some representative pictures of Fontevraud l’Abbaye. Enjoy it

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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