Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CHATELLERAULT & the Motor and Bike Museum

For no other reason did we (I) visit Chatellerault than to see the Moto and Velo Musee. A friend who assisted me in partly sponsoring my book on motor racing in Australia suggested that I visit some of the many motor museums in France that he had the good fortune to visit. Chatellerault was one of those. There were others, one of which I stumbled upon in Provence in our third trip to France. I have to say that this one in Chatellerault was a gem. The settings for the bikes and cars on display were superb. Attention to detail was excellent.

 Bicycles and cars have been a great interest to me over the years. The history of the different marques, particularly French and Italian bikes and cars have always taken my passion more than American cars.
The history behind the drivers and riders these marques have always enthralled me. With bicycles, it was the successes of Anquitel, Poulidor, and later Fignon and Hinault that I would read about in magazines that came to Australia.
As a 17 year old my first two cars were a Citroen Traction Avant and a Renault Dauphine. Other Citroens, Renaults and Peugeots followed through the years.
It was only natural that Chatellerault was on my list of "must see" museums.

The Town of Chatellerault is near the confluence of the Vienne and Clain rivers and was known for its manufacturing of cutlery and sword making in early times. Later it became the centre for arms manufacturing and this is where the museum is now housed - in the old arms factory.
We arrived, not knowing where this building was located so I found a parking spot as close to the Tourist Information centre, down some back streets on the banks of the Vienne. I eventually found the Information Centre but unfortunately had forgotten where I parked the car with Sue waiting for my return. Eventually by walking towards the river and then along its banks, I finally located a very patient wife and the car.
I handed the map to Sue and off we went to find the museum.

On arrival, there were very few cars parked nearby and I feared that it maybe closed. Fortunately it was open but we were amongst a very few people to enjoy the museum. On entering the doors, I was filled with great expectations of what my friend had described to me back in Melbourne. I wasn't disappointed.
The displays were excellent with backdrops of large panels depicting advertisements, newspaper cuttings and histories of the cars, bikes, drivers and riders. I could have ambled on for hours.

The way back from Chatellerault to Chinon took us by the great stone walls of the Richelieu forest. We were not aware of Richelieu as a town or much of Cardinal Richelieu's perfect village. It wasn't until we stopped for a coffee at Champigny-sur-Veude that we saw the Chapelle St Louis with its magnificent stained glass windows. I'm told that there was at one time a Chateau beside it but during Cardinal Richelieu's time of building his prized town, he had the Chateau pulled down and used much of the materials in the building of Richelieu as he didn't want any rival buildings nearby. I've tried to research this theory without much result.

It was a nice interlude to our drive back to Chinon as a storm was brewing over the valley. It had been a long day and we were looking forward freshening up before going to dinner at the local Italian restaurant in the main square. Tomorrow was a tour to three of the local Chateaux, another big day in the Loire.

But that's next Wednesdays in France.


  1. How much is that velo in the window?? love it - Wow! your new format is very classy - I had to check if I was on the right site - a great backdrop for your French posts. Bravo!!!

  2. Love this post, have marked this as a stopover when we are driving to the UK and have some time to spare. We both would love it. Thanks for this. Diane

  3. Dianne- Ooooorh thanks Dianne. Thought I needed a bit of a spruce up. Good to see you back from hols up north.
    BTW, those Velos cost a lot these days. I'm actually restoring two at the moment and may post on them soon.

  4. And our Diane with one N. I sometimes think Sue and I might have seen as much of your area as you have. We can all learn from each other. You live in a lovely part of the world. I have this thing as I get older - not to have spare time but to make time.
    Love your posts too.

  5. Next time you're in Champigny -sur-Veude- try the local 'village green'. It has a lovely fishing pond and picnic stables well positioned under weeping willow trees. I'st peacful and ideal for a riperian picnic. The entrance is across the road from the chapel, slightly towards Richelieu. We've enjoyed many a picnic there over the years ...

  6. We've never been but have been tempted by your pics and have promised ourselves a visit soon.

  7. Martine - we will take your advise as we will return to Richelieu on our way back to Chinon next May.

  8. Gaynor - This one of the things about blogging I really enjoy, the feedback and interaction that we offer each other.. Glad you enjoyed this post. We still have a long way to go before we return to Paris and then there's still our 2009 and 20010 trips for "Wednesdays in France".

  9. We loved the museum when we visited in July - probably the best motor museum we have ever "done" - and we've "done" quite a few !!

  10. Jean, Like you we've seen a few including the Alfa one in Arese, Italy which was marvellous.
    We missed the Le Mans one but more about that soon in our next Wd in France after we leave Chinon.


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