Archive for December 26th, 2021

December 26, 2021

Cité Royale de Loches!!!

Ok so this one was planned for on our way back home stop and see the most we could. We were on my road warrior trip in the Loire and this was the end of the line before heading full throttle home on the A85 to A11 to N165 and home! So let me give you an introduction and then some on the Cité Royale de Loches!!!

Loches is located in the Indre-et-Loire department 37, in the Centre-Val de Loire region. The town is crossed by the Indre river for about 6 km which flows from south to north at the eastern end of its territory, I got here along the D960/D760 road,from Valençay passing briefly by Montrésor.

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A bit of history I like tell us that Loches becomes a small medieval town topped with one of the oldest dungeons in Europe, built around the year 1000 by Foulques III Nerra. In the 10C, the incessant quarrels between the counts of Blois and the counts of Anjou are in the origin of the rise of the castle of Loches, which now plays a leading role in this power struggle. His son Foulques Nerra had an enormous dominium built, attesting to his power, in the form of a large square tower. This quadrangular keep is still visible today.

In 1195, after the death of Henri II Plantagenêt, Lord of Anjou and King of England and taking advantage of Richard the Lionheart being held prisoner in Austria since his return from the Crusades, Philippe Auguste intrigued with Jean sans Terre, the brother of Richard the Lionheart and is given Loches. As soon as he is freed, the impetuous Lionheart runs up and takes back the castle of Loches. Ten years later, in 1205, Philippe Auguste took his revenge. The siege lasts a year. In 1249, the lordship of Loches passed definitively to the French royal domain after Saint Louis bought it . Until the end of the Ancien Régime, the kings of France gave the title of lieutenants to the king to the governors of the stronghold of Loches, and in particular the Baraudins dynasty, which succeeded each other throughout the 18C.

At the end of May 1429, after her victory in Orleans, Joan of Arc came to meet Charles VII to convince him to be crowned. In the 15C, Agnès Sorel, favorite of Charles VII, often lived in the converted castles of Loches and Beaulieu from 1444 in 1449. She abandons the court of Chinon, where the Dauphin (future Louis XI) created many difficulties for her. Agnès Sorel took refuge in Loches and Charles VII, angered by so much impertinence, drove her son from the court and sent him to govern the Dauphiné. After serving as a royal residence, the Château de Loches became a state prison under Louis XI. On the eve of the French revolution, Loches was in decline, and in 1789, the royal prison of Loches had only three prisoners. Under the Consulate, Chinon and Loches are designated sub-prefectures of the department of Indre-et-Loire, thus preserving a certain administrative and cultural autonomy vis-à-vis the city of Tours. Loches built an amphitheater under the remains of an old castle only 41 km from Tours. The Loches roundup on Thursday July 27, 1944 the Gestapo helped by the militia of Tours closed the city, more than two hundred people will be arrested and questioned for part of the day in the premises of the Alfred-de-Vigny girls’ school. 58 men and 6 women will be directed to the prison of Tours, then to the deportation camps. Loches is listed as a City of Art and History, Flower town, and among the most beautiful detours in France. It is now very popular among the British many of whom settled in this part of Touraine, thereby reconnecting with their Plantagenêt ancestors.

Things to see in Loches, well head for the castle of Loches ,the main thing to see here, and it includes, the Roman keep, remarkable for its dimensions (36 meters high) and for its excellent state of conservation, it is the last of the dungeons erected by Foulques Nerra, Count of Anjou, around the year 1000. In 1926, the keep finally ceased to be a prison. The keep is flanked by another tower called the Louis-XI tower, built during the Renaissance with a purely military vocation, it was designed to allow cannon firing from the top of its terrace.

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Le Logis Royal built on the tip of the rocky outcrop overlooking the Indre valley, the Logis Royal was one of the favorite residences of the Valois during the Hundred Years War. Charles VII erected a first main building inspired by military architecture at the end of the 14C. His successors extended it with a second building, the facade of which was decorated in a flamboyant Gothic style. Three illustrious women have marked the history of the Logis Royal: Joan of Arc, Agnès Sorel, favorite of Charles VII and Anne of Brittany.

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Other things to see in Loches are

The Royal Gate: the only exit allowing access to the Citadel. This door dates from the 12C and 13C and was completed in the 15C by a central building and a cannon terrace. From the Porte Royale, you can enter the Royal City to visit the keep, the Logis Royal, the Saint-Ours Collegiate Church and the Maison Lansyer, or go around the ramparts via Boulevard Philippe-Auguste (as we did). The top of the Porte Royale can be reached through the Maison Lansyer garden, from where the view of the city is breathtaking.

The Saint-Ours Collegiate Church is a Romanesque and Gothic church built in the 11-12, whose mixed style is due to a long construction over two different periods. It also has two strange hollow eight-sided pyramids, the “dubes”, erected around 1165. It also houses the marble tomb of Agnès Sorel,

The Chancellery, a Renaissance building open to the public which houses an exhibition on the history of the city of Loches, City of Art and History and temporary exhibitions, and the Maison du Centaure neighboring house whose facade is adorned with a relief representing Hercules and a Centaur,

The Saint-Antoine Tower: former bell tower of the Saint-Antoine chapel, now disappeared, it also serves as the city’s belfry. It rises to 52 meters and offers a good view of the surroundings of Loches. Built between 1529 and 1575, it is the only Renaissance belfry in Touraine. It is only open to the public on the occasion of Heritage Days,

The Porte des Cordeliers: opened in the 15C in the third belt of the city’s ramparts, the Porte des Cordeliers was equipped with two drawbridges crossing the reach of the Indre. She let in travelers who came by road from Spain,

Sansac castle , a small Renaissance castle whose particularity is an asymmetrical facade. It was here that Francis I first met Charles V. The castle is private.  The bronze statue of Alfred de Vigny, made in 1909 by François Sicard, is on the Place de la Marne, it was previously located on the Place de Verdun.

The city of Loches on its heritage

The Loches tourist office on the Royal City/castle

There you go folks, I come to the end of my road warrior tour of the magnificent Loire valley. The Royal Fortress of Loches needs more time and we will be back. For now I leave this introduction in my blog as a reminder for later trips hoping 2022 would be a better year for all. Hope you enjoy the post on the Cité Royal de Loches!

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

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December 26, 2021

The Château de Valençay !!!

And here I am moving right alone in the wonderful sublime Valley of the Kings, the Loire. And I arrive at Valençay castle, the home of Tayllerand! This is new territory in my blog, so will tell you more about it. I do not recall been here as Tayllerand was close to Napoléon.

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The town of Valençay is located in the dept Indre 37 of the Centre Val de Loire region. Let me use this post to tell you about the castle and then another for the rest misc. Hope you enjoy it as I. As usual superbe loire valley castle.

The château de Valençay was the property of the prince de Talleyrand. Documents attest to the presence of the lordship or domain of Valençay from the 13C, but all that remains from this time is the salle basse (lower medieval hall), located below the current cour d’Honneur (main courtyard). Property of Eudes de Bourgogne at the time and then passed on to his descendants, the fiefdom was acquired in 1451 by Robert II d’Estampes who extended the property.  Louis d’Estampes, grandson of Robert II, made a rich match in marrying Marie Hurault, daughter of the French Minister of Finances of Louis XII, which triggered the construction around 1520. First by building the large tower, then half of the facade and two bays of the gallery. The gallery, near the cour d’Honneur, was built in the next decade.  In 1540, Jacques, son of Louis and Marie d’Estampes, who also married into wealth, began to finish building the large tower, adding an imperial roof which was not yet very common.The marriage between his son Jean and Sara d’Applaincourt, heiress of the fiefdom of Picardie, relaunched construction with the building of a remarkable keep. This square tower flanked by cylindrical turrets on both sides of the entrance and the courtyard had a porte-cochère and a pedestrian door. The construction of a wing symmetrical to the main buildings, between the round tower and the keep was initiated but remained unfinished. The Marquis de Valencay Dominique, that the d’Estampes family reached its peak. Dominique made a prestigious alliance in marrying Marie-Louise de Montmorency and had a particularly favorable position in the king’s court. Thanks to him, the buildings surrounding the cour d’Honneur were completed: end of construction of the west wing, coupled with a gallery, construction of a symmetrical wing to the east, a stone arcade wall to the south closing the courtyard.  Following premature deaths in the d’Estampes family and conflicts related to heritage and the estate, the château was sold several times.   

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Beautiful collections of furniture sculptures, paintings and precious objects give the Château of Valençay a still inhabited look, Its prominent room ,condensed briefly by yours truly from the official castle site are :

Grand salon this room is completely inspired by the Empire style from the mahogany and gilded bronze décor to the hanging Bohemian crystal chandeliers. It is found in the armchairs, chairs and sofas whose tapestries, all different and embroidered by the ladies of the court of Spain, reproduce leaves collected in the park. 

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Blue salon ,the Louis xv style table was transformed into a card table by the Spanish princes. A big player himself, Talleyrand surely enjoyed it. All around: Louis XV and Louis XVI style chairs and small pieces of furniture. A beautiful early 18C bureau Mazarin, with red tortoiseshell and leather inlay.

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King of Spain’s Bedroom The largest bedchamber in the château including a beautiful set of Empire-style furniture, this room was occupied by the Prince of Asturias from 1808 to 1814. As a prisoner of Napoleon, the future King Ferdinand VII stayed in a gilded cage thanks to the attention and concern of Talleyrand.A Louis XVI-style bed was specifically made for Ferdinand and small pieces of furniture for gloves, stockings and handkerchiefs all add a touch of sophistication to this room along with the recently added cheval mirror. The walls are covered in a fine panoramic grisaille wallpaper, representing episodes of the life of Cupid and Psyche.

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Duchess de Dino’s Bedroom The Duchess of Dino, Talleyrand’s beloved niece turned companion of Talleyrand, gazes upon her former world in a formal dress from her portrait painted by Chabord. This room contains a very fine set of mahogany furniture, including a beautiful Empire Restoration-style sleigh bed made from Cuban mahogany. A stunning 19C copper bathtub and rare Regency bidet-chair are located in the bathroom next to the bedchamber.

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Dining room The dining room displays a magnificent mahogany table seating up to 36 guests, refreshment console tables made of marble, a cutting table and an elegant decor.

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Hall of Treasures Since 2018, the staged museum room has showcased the personal and historical items belonging to Talleyrand.

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Family portraits gallery Today, the gallery is adorned with 19C neoclassic statues and busts, Empire-style chairs and six portraits of Talleyrand’s parents and ancestors.

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Music room Versailles-style wooden floors, carved woodwork and original painted walls are all inspired by Louis XVI.

Valencay castle salon de musique Tayllerand dec21

Grand Gallery It serves all of the upstairs apartments and ends in a small room, formerly used as a chapel, which holds today a copy of Houdon’s “Diana the Huntress”. This corridor is filled with many Empire and Restoration-style chests of drawers and console tables.

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Princess de Bénévent’s Bedroom Talleyrand’s wife was given the title of Princess of Benevento when Talleyrand received the duchy of Benevento, an estate owned by the Vatican attached to the kingdom of Naples, from Napoleon in 1806. Furniture in her room dates back to the 18C.

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Prince de Talleyrand’s Bedroom Some of the beautiful Empire-style furniture comes from the Hôtel Saint Florentin in Paris, where Talleyrand died in 1838. The mahogany bed with an Egyptian-style headboard, Egyptian Revival chest of drawers with marble top and claw feet, small pedestal table with two marble surfaces, three rounded claw legs with hawk heads and gilded bronze motifs.

Valencay castle chambre prince de Tayllerand dec21

Guest Room This room was named after the Empire-style bed that belonged to this famous female scholar, Miss de Staël. Here you will find a small striking pedestal table engraved with hieroglyphics with its three legs embellished with lion heads and paws.

Study This room holds various pieces of office furniture that belonged to Talleyrand. The mahogany veneer table and leather armchair with bellow pockets were used during Talleyrand’s last diplomatic mission, in London from 1830 to 1834, for King Louis-Philippe.

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Cabinet de toilette With its Toile de Jouy wall coverings, it separated the two bedrooms and was previously an antechamber.

The kitchens Equipped with ovens and copper utensils were comfortably set up in the 17-18C basements

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Renaissance Room This room, located on the first floor of the keep, still bears witness to the style and taste of upper class people at the time of the Renaissance. an impressive fireplace presents a superb basket of flowers in the centre of its hood surrounded by the weapons, monograms and portraits of Louis d’Estampes and his wife, Marie.

Guard Room In the basement of the west wing, a long sloping corridor takes you to a room located underneath the Cour d’Honneur (Grand Courtyard). It is the last remaining part of a fortified castle built in the 13C. Divided into three bays by thick arches.

From 1816 until his death, Talleyrand stayed at Valençay castle for a few months every year, surrounded by his family and the many leading figures of the times whom he counted as friends. In 1819, he launched construction on a building in the communal area, designed to be a private theater for his own entertainment and that of his entourage. was completed in 1820 . The theater’s defining feature is the magnificent conservation of most of its original sets. After fading from memory in the early 20C, the theater was rediscovered in the 1980s and then officially reopened to the public in 2013.

Renewed each season, the flower beds are designed to give the château a colorful setting worthy of its architectural splendor. Filled with 25 different tree species, the forest is carefully maintained and plays an educational role with signs that provide information on their different origins, uses and biology. Visitors can explore it on foot or by electric golf cart on a 4 km path. You have the Garden “à la française”, The Duchess’ Garden, and Ornamental Gardens. The Deer Park dates back to Talleyrand’s day, with its delightful deer, large and small, sporting their red coats with white splashes in the summer, brown in the winter. The “Forêt des Princes” , visitors can explore a magnificent 4 km historical and natural path on foot or using an electric golf cart. Seven remarkable features are worth pointing out along this walk, along with a stunning view of the château. This has an additional charge of 14€.

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The official Château de Valençay

The Valençay tourist office on the castle

There you go folks, another magnificent castle in my belle France! The list is endless, and the beauty beyond questioning. This is indeed the valley of the kings, and I am just touching the surface. The Château de Valençay and Tayllerand is a nice history piece to learn with more space and time than this post allows me. Hope you enjoy it and visit.

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

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