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.

Loches rue Picois hotel de ville dec21

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.

Loches forteresse royal castle tower dec21

Loches forteresse royal castle ramparts dec21

Loches forteresse royal castle tower donjon dec21

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.

Loches forteresse royal castle ramparts ch Saint Ours dec21

Loches forteresse royal castle top dec21

Loches forteresse royal castle tower donjon2 dec21

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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