The Castle of Noirmoutier!!!

This as you can see is an update/revision of a wonderful trip we made to a beautiful island south of us, the Ïle de Noirmoustier! in the  Vendée dept 85 of the region of Pays de la Loire. I have written several posts on it, first on the trip overall of which there are parts I to VI  and on individual monuments. However, I am redoing part VII into a post on the castle alone, worth it me think. Hope you enjoy it!

First, we got here by driving from home taking the freeway N165 in about 2h45 time and 207 km distance. We cut by Pont Chateau D773 to the N171 and then , the Pont de Saint Nazaire on the D213 or Route Bleue towards Bourneuf -en-Retz, to Bouin on the D758  onwards to Beauvoir sur Mer ,then get on the D22 to Fromentine, and there take the D38 at La Barre de Monts ,and on the bridge or pont de Noirmoustier.  The ride was wonderfully good and easy with great sites along the ocean and marine terminals and the marais Breton or Breton marshes! On the way back home we took the sublime passage du Gois where on low tide you can ride the road and on high tide is completely cover by the ocean!

I will tell you about the Castle of Noirmoutier ;it is right in city center on the square place d’Armes facing the dam, the harbor with great views of the whole city and beyond. Noirmoutier island is gorgeous living.

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The Château  de Noirmoutier is from the 12C. And in its dungeon you can see now a museum housing collections of Noirmoutier heritage (dating back to Pre-history) and a large collection of Jersey porcelain. Since 1934 it is run by the Société des amis de Noirmoutier.  The collection includes local archeology, and history, paintings, ornithology, marine objects, and Jersey faïences with more than 600 pieces.

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Before the 17C the harbor reached until the ramparts of the Castle where you see now douves. The current entrance did not exist as the old entrance was done by the side of the Church of St Philbert (see post). It was the Dutch who invaded Noirmoutier in the 17C that destroyed the two small towers and took the bells Marianne and Suzanne with them; they were found in the Netherlands in 1980 ! The date of the construction of the castle is not known precisely; it appeared for the first time in writing dating from 1205 so the city historians think it was built between 1170 and 1180.  It was built by  Pierre V de La Garnache, to show his feudal power especially to his rival the English. It maintained military uses until the 19C.

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The visit starts by the chemin de ronde, to discovered the exterior parts of the Castle; and then comes inside the donjon towers that has been renovated into a museum of local culture.  The first two levels that in the old times serve to house the ammunition and food and the opening are tight and narrow. Here we find a memorial to the wars of the Vendée between the white royalists and the blue republicans in the 18C.  On the island this war begain on March 10, 1793, and  Noirmoutier change side three times until finally the Republicans of Gen Haxo took it. The main furniture here is the chair in which the royalist general Maurice D’Elbée was executed in 1794. You can see several souvenirs brough by the marines such as English  faïences (Jersey) , and measurement instruments. On the upper level, the decoration change and the ceilings are higher with great lighted windows to host the permanent collection.

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There are a group of about 10 canons in the courtyard of the castle from a sunken ship as well as sarcophagus of Mérovigian origins on a square section in the castle as you go in to your left.  You can see as you entered on your right a long house attach to the ramparts ; this was the residence of the governor, and it was one of them ,Mr  La Paunière, governor of the island and castle that had it renovates in 1690. It is today that we conserved all the archives of  Noirmoutier.

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When we visited there was  a temporary exposition entitled « Noirmoutier, une île au cinéma »  or Noirmoutier and island of cinema, where films filmed here since 1925 even if those shown with posters, photos paintings etc as well as old film cameras re telling the story of cinema here from 1960 to our days . This was back in November 2017.

We came from the free parking by the Church St Philbert (see post) and entered the castle by the reception ticket office. You, then come into the courtyard, where on the left and right side you will see the rows of canons. On the far left you see remnants of what was the old prison of WWI and you continue on the middle to the Keep (12C), you see the small castellum and former entrance in the 13C on your right, a small portion of it. Next to it you see the Governor’s house from the 17C, all along the walls you can have a rampart walk for about half the enclosure, and on the back of the main castle building you climb up to the top for the panoramic views.

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The First floor or level 1 you see the pre historic permanent exhibition , oldest found from the Bois de la Chaise woods, and the Neolithic period from La Fosse to the Luzéronde with megaliths stones. Photos of the old crypt of the current Church that was built on the former monastery of Herio the old name for Noirmoutier.

The Second floor or level 2 you entered the vaulted room to really know the history of the castle from the 9C wooden structured to the now Romanesque keep.  The Third floor or level 3, from the Dutch attack in 1674 to the wars in the Vendée against the French revolution, it gives you part of this stories.

From the top of the Keep the whole island stretches before you. You see as far as the harbor of L’Herbaudiére, the heritage port, the Jacobsen dyke/dam, and the Mûllembourg nature reserve as well as the boat cemetery. To remarks that from the panoramic view on top of the castle it is said that on clear days you can see as far as 20 km or about 12 miles. We certainly saw lots of beautiful sights from above.

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The castle of Noirmoutier belongs to the city since 1901 and it has more here: https://www.ville-noirmoutier.fr/le-chateau/

The tourist office of the Ïle de Noirmoutier on the castle: https://www.ile-noirmoutier.com/en/node/608/chateau-museum.html

There is a non profit organization Les Amis d’île de Noirmoutier that helps protect this castle with upkeeps coming from donation and they are house in the former governor’s house inside the castle. webpage: http://www.amis-ile-noirmoutier.fr/l-association/historique/

In all, a nice visit to a pretty castle ,full of history and interesting things to see. The views are gorgeous as it was a sunny day. Enjoy the Ïle de Noirmoutier and its castle.

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

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2 Comments to “The Castle of Noirmoutier!!!”

  1. France is certainly blessed with a fine selection of castles.

    Liked by 1 person

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