Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CHINON and Jeanne d'Arc

I'm not sure we knew much of Jeanne d'Arc before our stay in Chinon - that is to say much more than movies and folk-lore.
I'm sure that I was not aware of the strong connection between Chinon and Charles VII, that is until I saw the amazing bronze statue with the "Maid of Orleans" on horseback in her suit of armour and brandishing a sword in one hand while holding her flag in the other. We stood there looking at the statue for some time in awe. It stands in the area of where Chinon's market is held every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Looking up from Chinon's medieval lane ways, this is what you see.

Looking down from above Chinon are the ruins of Chateau de Chinon. We we were there in 2008 there was a great deal of rebuilding and restoration going on. Unfortunately we didn't get to actually inspect the ruins, nor did we on our visit the following year. Writing this blog has enlarged our knowledge of the places we have visited. It wasn't until we returned and I developed a passion for Joan of Arc's history that I discovered that her meeting with the Dauphin, Charles VII was the turning point in the 100 year war between the French and English. I didn't know that earlier much of the grand chateau was the built during the period (1100s) of Henry Plantagenet. It was also the inspiration for the play/film "The Lion in Winter" very loosely based on the plotting and intrigue between Henry and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their sons, Richard (the Lionheart), John and Geoffrey.

I could walk these streets and see something new every time.
It was in 1429 when Joan of Arc travelled from her home in Domremy in northern France to Chinon to gain an audience with Charles. She said she had visions and heard the voices of holy angels telling her to seek an army from him to battle the English so that he may take his place as the rightful King of France. Legend tells us that when Joan arrived at his court at Chinon Castle, the Dauphin was in disguise and another was dressed as the future King. Joan went straight to Charles although she had never seen him previously and kneeled before him. In private conversation she told him of things - of a personal nature that no one else knew. The rest is history and Charles was crowned King of France at Reims some months after Joan of Arc's successful battle at Orleans.
Her reward was to be imprisoned and later, burnt at the stake after a lengthy but dodgy trial at the age of 19.

Wikipedia tells us that there was a portrait of Jeanne d'Arc that has not survived but there are many statues, paintings and stain glass windows depicting her that we have seen in our travels throughout France.

Charles VII crowned king of France 1429 at Reims after holding court at Chinon.
This monument to Jeanne d'Arc is what sent me on a research learn more of her history.

We stood motionless for some time, taking in the detail of Roulleau's work. I then walked around and took photos at many different angles but none can do justice to the actual statue.

I sometimes wonder if Charles or Jeanne d'Arc walked the streets of the commoners below Chinon Chateau.

The Medieval buildings of Chinon hold some intriguing details - you only need to look more closely.

Walking the streets by day we returned to our B & B Logis Saint Mexme to shower and go out for dinner - we ate in the square at a restaurant with an Italian influence. Walking back home, the streets of Chinon took on a totally different dreamy atmosphere. You wondered what century you were actually in.......

It had been a big day but the next day was to be a visit to the Cadre Noir in Saumur, something that Sue had dreamed of. In her early days, pre-Leon that is - she was a horsey person. She tried to influence me in her passion but I've always preferred two wheels. I have to admit though, to see the precision of these horses and their riders was an experience I'm glad I had the opportunity to have enjoyed the show. Our host at Logis Saint Mexme, Helene organised all the negotiations for Sue. Nothing was too much of an effort to make our stay memorable, so much so that we return next May.

I've asked Sue to do the next "Wednesday in France" at the Cadre Noir. It was her special day.


  1. Love this post with so much interest. I learn something new everyday. Another place on the 'to visit' list. Take care Diane

  2. The statue is wonderful. Even via a static photo it gives off strength and movement.
    Enjoyed the visit.

  3. Diane,
    Bloggers - learning new things together.

  4. Craig,
    Sue and I still think we can hear the charge when we see this statue.
    Strength and movement is a good way to describe it.

  5. Another great post Leon. lovin your work and eagerly awaiting Sue's post next week.

  6. I can imagine walking the street you would wonder which century you were in - I look forward to Sue's post at Cadre Noir!

  7. BTW, congratulations guys on your fair city being voted the most livable city in the world! Having been there a couple of times, I can fully understand it.

  8. Thanks Craig - we love where we live as you may have guessed...

  9. Dianne - Exactly how we felt when walking back to our B & B. Even as we walked behind the gate, we struggled in which time we existed.

  10. Thanks for an interesting post and history lesson. next time we visit Chinon we'll do it with some background info.

    Sadly we've ever been to Melbourne but are saving your part of the world for a longer post retirement trip. Fingers crossed we live that long .....

  11. Gaynor,
    You must visit Melbourne and hopefully we will still be sitting on our perch to say hello.
    As for Chinon, we are booked to say hello to our wonderful hosts next year in May. Maybe you can have a glass of Chinon with us when we are there.


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