Sunday 3 July 2011

Chinon on Sunday

Forteresse Royale de Chinon
We have family from the Netherlands staying with us. They are the first visitors to come since we moved here last August. As they don't know the area too well, we have morphed into tourist mode. A visit to the royal fortress of Chinon appealed. We know it well and are familiar with its history, but oddly enough we have never been inside. 

15th century Logis Royal
Its location is spectacular--high on a cliff above the Vienne river--King Henry II of England; who together with his wife ruled more than 1/2 of France at the time, chose brilliantly when he wanted to develop an existing site for a strategic castle in the 1150's. It sits at the crossroads between Touraine, Anjou and Poitou.

detail; restored 15th C roof line
It was a favoured castle during all his kingdom building and fights with his unruly sons: Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland who succeeded him. Henry died at Chinon in July 1189 and is buried at the Abbaye de Fontevraud as is Eleanor of Acquitaine his wife [and other members of the family].

We had a great time exploring the large outer bailey and Logis Royal which has a set of really outstanding video installations charting key historical events-- from the time of Henry II to Joan of Arc.

There was a small exhibit of artifacts at the end of the tour of the Logis Royal and one of the most interesting was a tiny 12th century bone die, still clearly showing the dots for numbers on each face. That such a small thing had been re-found was quite amazing.

replica traditional boat on the Vienne
The weather was perfect and we loved the spectacular views down onto the town and river below.

It's good fun being a tourist!


Craig said...

Indeed so. Isn't it funny how we find excuses not to be tourists in our own country? We need visitors to force our hand. Enjoy your visitors.

The Broad said...

I love Chinon. On a very special visit to the Loire it was our first port of call and we stayed in a wonderful 15th century hotel, Hostellerie Gargantua -- My sister and beau-frere had an old old room looking directly at the castle. It is such a charming old town with its cobbled streets and many wonderful restaurants. I hope one day to go there again.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Craig--how many times have you visited Endinburgh castle [or never!]?? It took ages before Niall and I finally went and had a look round.

Wine buying today--very good fun :-)

@Broad--it's one of the 1st places we visited back in the '90's. It has such a good atmosphere.

Minnie said...

Definitely! And thank you for taking this would-be tourist on a trip down memory lane. When a child, I spent summer holidays with a French family in their country house in Bourgueil (la Rivière). We kids (about a dozen of us old enough to swim) were taken in car convoys to swim in the Vienne not far from Montsoreau, where we whiled away entire days: heaven!
Of course, we visited the châteaux also - unforgettable.
The Touraine is a wonderful place, isn't it?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Minnie - thanks for posting a comment. Sounds like they were perfect summers for kids.
Touraine is indeed wonderful place and we count ourselves lucky to live here :-)