Archive for May 11th, 2020

May 11, 2020

A bit more on Anet!

Moving right along in my road warrior trips, and an amateur of history, European especially and of course French too I search for places of historical and architectural value as well. One of the leading figures of this history was Diane de Poitiers, and she is very much in Anet. Anet is located in the department of Eure-et-Loir, no 28 in the Centre-Val de Loire region. The towns is located 15 km from Dreux and Houdan, two towns near the national road N12; which is my main route for the last few years to go to Paris area. Anet, however, is best known for its castle, built by Philibert Delorme under Henri II for Diane de Poitiers (see post).

You can come by car from Paris leaving Porte Maillot and taking the A13 (autoroute de normandie) direction Rouen, go out at exit/sortie 12 towards Mantes Sud and follow the D928 all the way to Anet. This has never been visited by train but its possible. I have done a lot on the castle , let me tell you more about the history of Anet and all associated with it briefly of course.  New older photos too. Hope you enjoy it as I do.

Anet is known under current name from 1608. This name seems to derive from the Gallic Ana or swamp with the diminutive  Roman suffix as small swamp. Or rather Anet is a small swap meaning ! The town was part of the forest of Crothais, currently encircling and including the town of Dreux.

Going way back in time we have under the Merovingians monarchies of the 6C to 8C, the forests cleared, the city of Carnutes, more populated, divided into several countries or pagi governed by a count . At the expense of the cities of Chartres and Evreux was formed the country Madrie or Pagus madracensis in which Anet began to populate. Under the Carolingians monarchies of the 8C to 10C, the  county of Madrie is often mentioned in connection with the Missies (sort of inspection of towns). The country of Madrie and Maine are joined to the seven counties which will form, a century later, Normandy.  Anet, meanwhile, had particular lords from the second half of the 11C, the Goël lords of Ivry, also masters of Bréval.  Anet thus enters the great history with Philippe-Auguste, son of Louis VII, king of France, that his father associated with the throne in 1179, at the age of 14 years. We find in effect in the Louvre ordinances letters from Philippe-Auguste given to Anet in 1192, the 13th year of his reign, by which he exempts the inhabitants of Anet, as being of his immediate jurisdiction, from all tolls and tax. Then he resides there in April and November 1195!. In 1404, Charles III of Navarre ceded definitively to the king of France the counties of Evreux and Mantes as well as Anet.

Anet chateau d'Anet front

I call it the Romantic period at Anet. Pierre de Brézé was killed at the battle of Montlhéry in July 1465 and his son Jacques succeeded him and built around 1470 the manor of Anet. In 1462, he married Charlotte de France, natural sister of King Louis XI and daughter of Charles VII and Agnès Sorel. When Jacques died in 1494 an estimate…, Or rather when he was confiscated in 1477 for the murder of his wife Charlotte, his son Louis de Brézé, grandson of Charles VII, became the owner of Anet. Louis married in second marriage on March 29, 1514 at the age of 55, with Diane de Poitiers, born September 3, 1499 ,therefore only 15 years old!!. Diane, who is often called the great seneschal of Normandy) was only 32 years old when Louis de Brézé died on July 23, 1531 in Anet. Diane owned Anet until her death on April 25, 1566 at the castle. In 1535, she became the favorite of the future Henri II; when he ascended the throne in 1547, he covered her with brilliant favors: he offered her Chenonceaux, gave her the title of Duchess of Valentinois, and 1547-1552 had Anet rebuilt by three of the greatest artists of the century: architect Philibert Delorme, sculptor Jean Goujon and painter Jean Cousin le Jeune. On Diane’s death, Anet returned to her daughter, Louise de Brézé, duchess of Aumale by her marriage to Claude II, then to her son, Charles de Lorraine. By letters patent of King Henri III, given in February 1583, the Châtellenie d’Anet was erected in a principality.


And then, the story continues at Anet.  Charles of Lorraine duke of Aumale having revolted against Henri IV, Anet was confiscated then given to a creditor of Charles, Marie de Luxembourg , duchesse de Penthièvre and princess of Martigues in inheritance from her father Sébastien, duchesse de Mercœur by her marriage to Philippe-Emmanuel de Lorraine. She offered it in 1592 to her only daughter Marie-Françoise de Lorraine-Mercœur , who married in 1609 César, duke of Vendôme and Étampes, natural son of Henri IV and Gabrielle d’Estrées. On the death of Caesar in 1665, Anet returned to his son Louis, then to his grandson Louis-Joseph duc de Vendôme et d’Étampes, comte de Dreux. Louis-Charles sold Anet to Louis XV in 1773 , but reserved the usufruct until his death in 1775. On that date King Louis XVI, therefore had to become the owner of Anet, but the enormous price of the transaction of 1773 not having been regulated, it had to yield it the same year by means of arrangement to Louis de Bourbon , duke of Penthièvre, grand admiral of France, son of the count of Toulouse and by there grandson of Louis XIV, nephew of the Duke of Maine Louis-Auguste, first cousin and heir to Louis-Auguste and Louis-Charles de Bourbon-Maine, all mentioned above. The Duke of Penthièvre was the last lord of Anet. He died on March 4, 1793 in Bizy.

And of course ,the French revolution came and change everything.  Upon his death, the Duke of Penthiévre left his estates to his daughter, Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, duchess of Orléans. Five weeks later, her property was confiscated by the revolutionary government. The Château d’Anet, placed in receivership, remains maintenance-free. In 1794, the furniture was sold at auction. On June 10, 1795, Moulins, commissioner of the General Security, had the desecration of Diane de Poitiers‘ tomb desecrated. The vault is opened and the coffin forced. Its contents are promptly transported to the village cemetery. On February 1, 1798, the estate was sold in four lots! In 1820, the empty and abandoned castle was returned to Marie-Adélaïde de Bourbon, Duchess of Orleans, who died in 1821. Her son, Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, faced with the scale of the repairs to be undertaken, sold it in 1823 to Louis-François Passy. In 1840, still in poor condition, the Château d’Anet was acquired by Count Adolphe de Riquet de Caraman, who undertook a first restoration campaign there. In 1860, following the Caraman’s reversal of fortune, Anet was bought by Parisian stockbroker Ferdinand Moreau, who led a second work campaign from 1863. In 1914-1918, his widow, his daughter, heiress of the castle in 1884, and his son-in-law Count Guy de Leusse, installed there, like other French castles, an auxiliary hospital of the Red Cross was installed during WWI. In 1944 ,the castle was given to his granddaughter, Mme Charles de Yturbe. Jean and Alexandra de Yturbe have owned it since 1998. A private and inhabited property, the château, its courtyard and the chapel are open to visitors. Finally, in 2010, the remains of Diane de Poitiers were exhumed to be replaced in the tomb in the castle, during a public ceremony.


City of Anet on heritage in French : City of Anet on heritage

Tourist office of Eure et Loir dept 28 on Anet in French: Tourist office of Eure et Loir dept 28 on Anet

And this is the story of a seldom visited but unique history of my belle France, worth the detour easy from the A13 famous Normandy road. The Château d’Anet at Anet is unique and the town very pleasant with a great market day we enjoyed very much. Hope you like the story and do come.

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

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May 11, 2020


Well have you notice, the uncreative world of mine, I have been naming my latest posts with the name of the city.  I figure it describes best the post. Hopefully…. Anyway, I like to tell you about a spot that visited a while back and just well almost not much mentioned but it is worth to have in my blog me think. I like to tell you a bit more about Épernon.

Épernon is a town in the Eure et Loir dept 28 of the Centre Val de Loire region of my belle France. The city is located 8 km from Maintenon (where we were heading see post), 14 km from Rambouillet (see post) and 65 km from Paris (several posts).

By road coming from the Rouen / Caen or Paris area take the A13 autoroute de Normandie direction Rouen, then A12 to the Rocquencourt triangle direction Rambouillet / Chartres on N10, take the direction Rambouillet. Go around Rambouillet. Immediately after the Carrefour hypermarket store seen from the road, and then take the direction of Orphin-Epernon. Coming from the Nantes / Le Mans / Angers / Brest / Rennes / Chartres areas take the A11 exit Ablis then direction Rambouillet by N10. Before Rambouillet, exit direction Orphin-Epernon. By train on the SNCF Paris-Le Mans line, from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Épernon .See the train station of Epernon here in French: TER Centre Val de Loire region on line to Epernon

A bit of history I like

 From the beginning of the 2C, Hugues Capet built the fortified castles of Maules, Neauphle-le-Château, Épernon and Montfort. They constituted a line of defense of the royal domain against the Dukes of Normandy, in other words against the kings of England. The new city extended to the banks of the Tahu river, now called the Guesle. Lord Amaury de Montfort, son of Guillaume de Hainault had Epernon surrounded by walls and ditches. Four gates gave access to the city, the Porte de Chartres, the Porte de Geolle, also known as Normanne or Normande gate, main entrance of the city, the Porte de   Paris and the Porte de Beauce.

From 1685 until 1689 the quarry operations contributed to the construction of the Maintenon aqueduct. The stone extracted for constructions is a particularly hard sandstone. The sandstone mining slumbered without stopping, until the construction of the railway line in 1843 and then with the opening of the railway line, making it possible to send stones and paving stones. towards the Paris region. The Haussmannian works were very large consumers of paving stones from Épernon cobblestone quarries disappeared with the economic crisis of 1929, but the remains were marketed until 1940.

Épernon is located on Via Turonensis of the pilgrimage to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle (Santiago de Compostela) going also by Chartres. The priory of Saint-Thomas, founded by Amaury I of Montfort as a monastery of the Trinity of Seincourt in 1052, has welcomed pilgrims to Chartres and to Santiago de Compostela since the 11C. Closed during the French revolution, the priory was bought in 1936 by the congregation of the sisters of Christ who continue to receive pilgrims.

We stopped here because my inclination to wines is such that I need to see all related to it while traveling my road warrior roads. Therefore, we saw the Pressoirs or vine pressing at Épernon ,and the first we saw was the former cellar of the 12C, built of local sandstone, it has three naves with seven vaulted spans, pillars with sculpted capitals and arched arches. Winegrowers were once very numerous in Epernon. The surrounding hillsides were covered with vines. According to feudal custom, each seventh bucket of wine returned to the lord in return for the use of the press. The charters of the Saint Thomas Priory designate it under the name of cellar of Hautebruyère. Indeed, it is there that the nuns of Hautebruyère kept the wine they harvested on the colline de Diane or hill of Diana whose vines belonged to them. It was also their farm for the rights they received in kind at the fairs and markets of Epernon. The Pressoirs are now use for cultural activities of the city, when it can be seen ,otherwise by pushing a button at the door the lights comes on and you can see inside from a glass window the place is vaulted and huge, magnificent sight.


Some other thing to see here with more time are

Saint Peter’s Church, of Romanesque origin, it’s the only surviving church in the town. It is mentioned in acts of the 12C. Restored in the 16C. The lords of the place and their families had a vault in the choir. There are still the partially mummified remains of a family member of a lord of Epernon. The Prieuré Saint Thomas Amaury de Montfort , who died around 1060, Lord of Epernon, took in from his ancestors the small Trinity Monastery of Seincourt, located on the banks of the Guesle. He donated this monastery to his friend Albert, a former monk from Chartres and abbot of Marmoutiers, who founded a priory there under the invocation of Saint Thomas. King Henry I solemnly approved this foundation in 1052. (see post on Montfort l’Amaury) .The Conservatoire des meules et paves or Conservatory of grinding stones and paving stones was created in 2005 to recall the memory of the region’s paver and millworkers. The building is a former stable, stable and sheepfold from the 19C, to which was added a building in the shape of a rotunda covered with slate from the Universal Exhibition of 1900, from the Pays de Caux. Two rooms are reserved for temporary exhibitions, most often on educational subjects. Their unique webpage is here in French: Conservatory of Grinding and Paving stones of Epernon

Great picturesque town to walk about , in fact Épernon has been name as one of the small villages of characters in France. Some nice streets to walk are the rue du Château, as during the weekly Tuesday market and various fairs, the grant, that is to say the right of entry of goods, was collected by the city in a hotel on this street, located at the corner of the rue aux Juifs and the rue du Château. The other been the Place du Change, as this square was once the center of the city and of shops. Old house whose ground floor is from the 15C. On the facade, on the left, Saint Christophe and, on the right, the angel of the Annunciation with the right hand on the chest. From the plain, we can see the turret of this house inside which remains a magnificent stone staircase.

The official Petites Cités de Charactére of France on Epernon in French: Small Villages of Characters of France on Epernon

The city of Epernon on heritage in French: City of Epernon on heritage

The tourist office blog on Epernon things to see in French: Epernon tourist blog on things to see

And voilà another dandy on the roads of my belle France. A very nice quaint town that is on the off the beaten path trail but worth the detour. For us Epernon was a nice visit on an area with plenty to see. Hope you enjoy the ride.

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

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