Archive for May 1st, 2022

May 1, 2022

The castle/ museum of Laval!

I take you now on a trip to Laval, in the dept 53 of the Mayenne and the region of Pays de la Loire.  Of course, I have come by here with the car and by train couple times stops here.  I have written on the garden, the Cathedral , and the Basilica, and now its the turn to do it for the Castle-Museum of Laval ! The castle is overlook a lot by all, of course in an region where castles are like houses you tend to dismiss some great properties. However, this castle is unique for its architecture and interesting museum in it. Let me tell you about the Château of Laval and its Naîf arts museum.


The Chateau de Laval  has its foundation in the 11C , and allowed the birth of the city. It occupies a rocky promontory above the Mayenne river , nevertheless has an element which gives it a unique status in the castral landscape: the oldest preserved masonry in France. It is made up of two distinct sets: the Vieux-Château, (old castle) which corresponds to the medieval castle, and the Château-Neuf, (new castle) a Renaissance gallery transformed into a courthouse in the 19C.


The history of the Château de Laval is intimately linked to that of the Maison de Laval, which appeared with Guy I, founder of the château. The Château-Vieux is remarkable for its 12C chapel as well as for its imposing master tower, crowned with a 13C wooden mantle, an exceptional example of military architecture from the Middle Ages. The richly carved bays of medieval houses, made at the beginning of the 16C, and the gallery of Château-Neuf, dating from the 1540s, are outstanding elements of the Renaissance which show the evolution of architecture at that time. The Old Castle, which served as a prison from the French revolution to 1911, has been open to the public since the 1920s.



Initially devoted to archaeology, natural history and the decorative arts, it has housed the Musée d ‘Naive Art and Singular Arts of Laval. This museum presents works by numerous artists representative of naive art and singular art. The Museum of Naive Art and Singular Arts (MANAS) is the oldest museum dedicated to naive art in France. It was created in 1967, and its opening was a way for the town to pay homage to Henri Rousseau, whom it regretted not having celebrated in his lifetime as not accepting his art form. This emblematic painter of naive art was born in Laval. In the following decades, the collections were increased and diversified, in particular to take into account singular art and foreign artists. These are presented in seven rooms, one dedicated to modern primitives like Henri Rousseau, another to various naive currents, another to naive Eastern Europeans, another to the Lefranc collection, the rest being dedicated to singular artists. The official MANAS museum :


A bit on the architecture that I like

The castle forms a triangular set of about a hundred meters on one side. It is surrounded by several streets that date back to the Middle Ages such as the Grande Rue,the rue des Orfèvres,the rue du Val -de-Mayenne. The Château-Neuf and its esplanade are bordered by a steep lane, the roquet du Palais; roquet means pug which is a steep slope in local talk. The main entrance of the castle overlooks the Place de la Trémoille, one of the most important in the city. This square overlooks both the pavilion which provides access to the Vieux Château, and the esplanade opening in front of the Château-Neuf. This is a wonderful area to walk like if you are back in the Middle Ages , just awesome and worth the detour me think. Since the Château-Neuf housed the courthouse from the French revolution to 1998, the square formerly bore the name of Place du Palais. Its current Place de La Trémoille, honors the youngest son of the last count of Laval, Antoine-Philippe de La Trémoille, royalist chief guillotined in front of the castle gates in 1794.


The city of Laval on the castle/museum

The Laval tourist office on its heritage

There you go folks, a wonderful property and very nice museum. I say its worth the detour to see this Castle-Museum of Laval! We love it !!

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

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May 1, 2022

The Château de Clisson!

This is a town we saw by chance as we went for the wines !! It has given us plenty of nice moments in addition to the wines, a wonderful market , beautiful little church , all written before. However, did not give credit enough to the castle or Château de Clisson!! wow a wonderful historical fortress castle in ClissonLoire-Atlantique dept 44 of Pays de la Loire region. Really, , this is historically Brittany/Bretagne but for now let me tell you about the castle.

The Château de Clisson was part of the family of Clisson (lords) since the 12C and by the 15C was a strategic point in the borders with the Duchy of Brittany.  From a wooden castle it became a stone castle ; it was part of Olivier V de Clisson ,then the last Duke of Brittany , François II was very attached to the castle where he marries Marguerite de Foix ; Anne de Bretagne  was their first and heritage daughter!! From 1807 it belongs to Lemot until his death in 1827, the castle stays in ruins until finally purchase by the regional council in 1962.


Ok but there is a lot more , so let me tell you a bit of the history I like.

The story goes that at the time of independent Brittany, the castle located at the crossroads of the Marches of Brittany, Anjou and Poitou, is one of the great border strongholds of the duchy of Brittany. Oh yes was part of it I told you so! The first lords of Clisson occupied the site from the beginning of the 11C; they are mentioned with certainty for the first time in 1061. The castle, at its origin between 1058 and 1060 was a simple castrum, would have consisted of wooden fences,which would be at the origin of the name Clisson. Subsequently and until the beginning of the 13C, the site seems to have been defended by a Romanesque fortress, a massive keep supported by buttresses and surrounded by an enclosure. The castle was undoubtedly demolished in the 1240s, on the orders of Duke Jean le Roux, as part of a conflict between Olivier II de Clisson, grandson of Guillaume, and his two half-brothers.


In the 14C, Olivier III de Clisson incorporated a châtelet serving as access to the courtyard. The castle of Clisson became the setting for the hectic lives of Olivier IV de Clisson and then Olivier V de Clisson. Olivier IV, first of all, presumed guilty of cartel with the English, was beheaded at the Halles de Paris in 1343, by order of the King of France Philippe VI de Valois. His wife, Jeanne de Belleville, took refuge in England with his son, Olivier V, who regained his possessions after his alliance with the French. But this rich lord, become constable in 1380, lives very little in Clisson, whose castle, in which he was born, may be entrusted to a castellan.


After 1420, Marguerite de Clisson, daughter of Olivier V and countess of Penthièvre, accused of treason against the Duke of Brittany Jean V was dispossessed of her property: the castle became the property of the Duke of Brittany and the prerogative of Richard d’Étampes in 1420. To finally dispose of this property fully, Richard must besiege the castle and the city. The surrender of the city was not long, shortly before October 1420. The castle then became one of the favorite residences of Duke François II of Brittany, son of Richard d’Étampes, who remarried there with Marguerite de Foix in 1471 (parents of  Duchess of Brittany/Queen of France, Anne de Bretagne) .The castle was enlarged to the west by a new rectangular enclosure 100 meters in length, armed with towers with casemates for artillery. Until the 17C, the castle was the residence of the Avaugour family, born of François I of Avaugour, illegitimate son of François II of Brittany.

The second half of the 16C was disturbed by the wars of the League. Brittany is Catholic, while Poitou is held by Protestants, notably in Montaigu. The castle collapsed in the middle of the 17C. The possessions and titles of the Avaugours passed to Charles de Rohan, who lost interest in the castle and ordered the sale of the furniture, carried out by 1748 , which led to the disappearance of many elements of great historical value, notably parchments. The fortress was then abandoned by its owners, and various families occupied the apartments until 1793 . During the Vendée war,(against the French revolution) the army of Mayence established its headquarters there. Following their defeat at the Battle of Torfou, Canclaux and his republican troops stop in Clisson. In 1793, they burned the castle and the city before leaving. After the French revolution, the houses in the city had to be rebuilt; thus, the ruined castle becomes a stone quarry and the locals took the building materials there. Long in ruins, it was restored from 1974 to 1975, again from 1986 to 1989 and yet again from 1991 to 1993.

During the 19C, the ruins of the castle of Clisson attracted painters and romantic sculptors, such as Louis-François Cassas or Claude Thiénon, and writers like Gustave Flaubert, passing through Clisson, described these ruins in a romantic style and the poet Évariste Boulay- Paty describes the castle in the constable’s time in a sonnet. At the beginning of the 20C, the castle served as a model for the painting Le Château de Clisson painted by the neo-impressionist artist Jean Metzinger, in 1905, exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts of Nantes (Beaux-Arts). The castle of Clisson is at Place du Minage city center cannot missed. And we love to walk around its remparts and partake on the weekend market or passed by it while shopping my wines in the region which we go direct.

The city of Clisson on the castle

The Nantes region tourist office on the castle of Clisson

There you go folks, a nice romantic castle of Clisson. The place is sublime and the wines well great whites indeed muscadet territory and seafood best match. Hope you enjoy the castle and do come , worth the detour. Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

May 1, 2022

The Château de Montreuil-Bellay, part III

On the road warrior team we set out again for the region of Pays de la Loire and the dept 49 of Maine-et-Loire to visit Montreuil-Bellay! And visit we did wonderful place indeed. Just to show you, we have castles to create a new country lol! Old France never died it just faded away a bit but still plenty of stones around!!! I found some pictures not in my blog on the castle and feel they should be in it, Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the Château de Montreuil-Bellay. And see my other two posts on it. No pictures allow inside but took some others ; hope you enjoy it as I


The town of Montreuil-Bellay is located in the heart of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Natural Park, less than 25 km from Saumur (Maine-et-Loire 49 ), Thouars (Deux-Sèvres 79 ) and Loudun (Vienne 86). It is about 274 km (about 170 miles) from my house, Montreuil, or small monastery, and Bellay, named after Lord Berlay installed in 1025 by Foulque de Nerra, has been a walled town since the 13C. A first belt (11C), direct protection of the castle, is completed by an impressive rampart (13C) encompassing the upper and lower towns, while a third enclosure controls the ford. Six monumental gates, four of which still exist, were pierced by the lords of Harcourt.


These great builders endowed Montreuil-Bellay with an exceptional architecture, a feature of the city still today: tufa lace on the facades of the houses, bossing of the towers of the Saint-Jean gate, tangle of the roofs of the castle dwelling, mansions with turrets, castral chapel that has become a collegiate church, castles, Saint-Jean hospital… The 15C is unquestionably the golden age of Montreuil-Bellay, which can be discovered today in this preserved setting.


Inhabited by the same family since 1822 and rich in precious furniture passed down from generation to generation who strive to maintain it to share its glorious history and beauty. Protected by 600 meters of walls and 13 flanking towers, this castle takes you back in time to discover an exceptional kitchen with a central hearth from the 15C. Finally, the route of the walkway and the stroll through the gardens allow you to appreciate the view of the fortified town and the Thouet, a river which meanders peacefully below.



The visit of the castle is combined with the tasting and the sale of the wines of the domain in AOP Saumur frequently rewarded for their always appreciated quality. And very good value/quality wise, we purchased, The vaulted cellars that support the castle and into which the astonishing Brotherhood of the Knights of Sacavin was enthroned in 1904,serve as the tasting venue! wonderful!! For a stay of several days in the walled town of Montreuil-Bellay, a 17C hotel is also available to visitors with a view of the castle: the Relais du Bellay.

Among the owners of the Château de Montreuil-Bellay, Geneviève de Condé, Duchess of Longueville and cousin of king Louis XIV, is one of the most illustrious. Instigator of the Fronde with her brother, the Grand Condé, she was forced by the Sun King into exile behind the walls of this golden prison. The highlight of the visit is the moving discovery of the bedroom of this woman who marked history by her strong character breaking with the strict codes of the court.


The city of Montreuil-Bellay on its heritage

The official Château Montreuil Bellay :

The Saumur tourist office on the castle of Montreuil Bellay and heritage sights:

There you go folks, it is a beautiful castle and great wine tasting venue at the end to finish a wonderful day in the Pays de la Loire! Do come to the Château de Montreuil-Bellay you will be glad you did.

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

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