Again Maintenon! !

And here I am again to tell you about some wonderful historical and architecturally nice castle not far from Paris, and easy by train from Montparnasse. Of course, I have written before on it in my blog so will just content myself to share with you some notes from a famous newspaper lady and my pictures of course. Let me tell you a bit about Madame de Maintenon and her castle in pictures.

Briefly, Maintenon is located in the dept 28 Eure et Loir of the Centre Val de Loire region.


The childhood of Françoise, born as Aubigné, offers too few happy memories. She owes her birth in November 1635, in the prison of Niort,(Deux-Sévres dept 79 region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine) to a customary father of the dungeons, counterfeiter, cheater, renegade and murderer of his first wife. Disowned by the poet Agrippa ; grandfather of Francoise, companion of Henri IV, great slayer of Catholics and man of convictions , the ill-named Constant(father) leaves his wife Jeanne (mother) to raise their children alone. It is difficult to assume the survival of its own. Above all, Françoise lacks tenderness. The youth of Bignette, her nickname, gets bogged down in necessity, in great poverty and sometimes even in misery, except six years during which she enjoys happiness, love and laughter at her aunt Louise-Arthémise’s.


For lack of dowry, she preferred to the convent to marry a paralytic of 41 years, beautiful spirit with atrophied body. However, the poet Paul Scarron, this shortcut of human misery, brings her kindness, address book, fame, kindness. Widowed at 24, Françoise receives debts for all the heritage. Installed in a furnished room at the Petite-Charité Convent, she cultivates her image of a respectable, devoted and charitable woman, between sincerity and necessity.


At a dinner, she meets the spicy Madame de Montespan, five years younger. The meeting, decisive, dictates her future: Françoise soon becomes, in the greatest clandestinity, the governess of the natural children of the favorite of  king Louis XIV, the dazzling and biting Athénaïs. Louis XIV discovers the devotee in a different light. She touches him, seduces him. With a cool head, the skilful governess sets off with the Sun King in a friendly, sensual, intellectual, romantic relationship that lasted from 1673 to 1715, the year of the sovereign’s death.


The widow Scarron, with the flirtatious royal gratification which she received in 1674, acceded to landed property and its attributes: at 40, Madame de Maintenon managed her new estate, a big castle (Maintenon) set with land. Masterfully, she oversees repairs, governs crops, validates the choice of livestock, creates a charity and a general hospital, launches a canvas factory and places the poorest in an apprenticeship school.

She must return, however, out of love for the king who cannot do without her. Secretly married to Louis XIV in 1683, after the death of Queen Marie-Thérèse, at Fontainebleau or Versailles who knows? , the future marquise plays her partition with her glorious husband, as much as she can, but without any real function or decisive influence. His “Solidity “, as the king likes to call her, decides nothing. The one who knew how to appease by her charms, her intelligence, her tenderness, her temperance the master of Europe remains a queen without crown, an enlightened and tempered spirit in the shade of this great machine which always impressed.


Throughout their 32 years of common life, she learned to know, respect and fear a selfish, tyrannical, authoritarian, rigid man. Disappointed by this love which does not correspond to an absolute so longed for, she devotes herself with passion, sincerity and efficiency to charitable and useful works. At Saint-Cyr (yvelines 78) , her wedding present, her greeting and her last home, which should comfort her. It will not be. At 83 years old, the ambitious generous ends an exceptional destiny in sorrow and weariness. All of complexity and paradox, she however did not abdicate anything, she never denied her freedom of thought or tainted her proud constancy.

On April 15, 1719, Madame de Maintenon died, alone and dissatisfied, four years after Louis XIV. In Saint-Cyr, an institution created by her to protect and educate young noble and poor girls, and to avoid the disarray and humiliation that she herself endured, she ends a tumultuous, daring and highly romantic destiny. All of thwarted passions, that which worked for the happiness of his close relations, the future of his nephews and nieces, the education of the illegitimate children of the king, the glory of her husband, leaves without ever having really met the God whom she searches since her youth.

Translated from an excellent work of newspaperwoman Jeanne Morcellet.

Under her influence, the Black Code was completed in 1685 and the Edict of Nantes revoked, which triggered the persecution and the exodus of Protestants. Madame de Maintenon had Saint-Cyr-l’École (Yvelines 78) created in 1686 the Royal House of Saint-Louis, an establishment intended for the education of noble and destitute young girls.

The establishment was maintained during the first years of the French revolution, but closed its doors definitively in March 1793. Napoleon I was inspired by the Royal House of Saint-Louis to create the House of the young ladies of the Legion of Honor, which still exists today under the name of House of Education of the Legion of Honor. More of today here in English: Official Legion of Honor House of Education of the Legion of Honor

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Maintenon on the castle in French

Official Chateau de Maintenon in English

Tourist office of Chartres Maintenon on the castle in English

Official Chateau de Versailles on Madame de Maintenon in English

Indeed fascinationg history that I like and glad to show it in my blog. Hope you enjoy the story of Madame de Maintenon and the Castle

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


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