Tuesday, January 31, 2012


A HUGE day by any one's standards but we're only there for one week and wanted to see as much as possible. Then again, we're Aussies - like Americans distance is no problem - we are accustomed to jumping in the car and taking off.  Just hop in the car and go. First on our list was Richelieu. We left from Thenay at 8.00 am to Montrichard and crossing the Cher and later the Indre. We stopped along the way to the turn off junction at where we filled up the car with Gazol. There's a follow story there but more later.

The Cardinal's Town - Richelieu

The drive to Richelieu wasn't overly stressful, the roads were quiet as was Richelieu. What drew us to this town you might ask? It really doesn't have a lot of charm but if you take in its history it starts to bloom in your imagination. It's a little down in the tooth but quite a bit of restoration is going on and I'd like to return in 10 year's time.
Cardinal Richelieu being a most influential and rising nobleman was able to build his "perfect village" in a twelve year period. In a previous visit to the Loire, we passed by the great stone walls hiding the Cardinal's forest that seem to run for miles. We didn't know much about Richelieu at the time but vowed to return when we had more time. This time we did have time - we walked the streets of this town built in perfect squares. Not a curved piece of road did we see. We took the time to enjoy coffee and a nibble at a couple of the cafes, just taking in the atmosphere of town. To think this "housing estate" began being built in the 1630.
We parked the car at the end of the Grande Rue at the square, place du Grande Marche.
The Cardinal's grand chateau no longer exists. It was located in the park lands just outside Port de Chatellerault. I've read that it was so grand that only Versailles rivaled it. I learned later that the relatives of the Cardinal sold off the stone and other materials after the Revolution. A great loss today but rather ironic when you consider that the Cardinal used materials from Chinon's Chateau.

The Place de Grande Marche
One of the sad old buildings - Maybe the Cardinal had his carriages serviced here!
It was so quiet that we had no difficulty in parking within the main square.
Amongst the buildings, you discover the most ornate pieces of architecture.

We had planned to visit Azay le Rideau later in the day but lunch time was drawing close and we thought of staying a little longer in Richelieu. That is until I discovered I didn't have my credit card. When did I last use it, that's right - back at the junction where we filled up with petrol. I still had the receipt so we phoned ahead and sure enough, they had my credit card waiting for me. No time for lunch at Richelieu so we sped back to pick up my card.

This little Renault 750 sat in the main drag by the Vienne River.

Behind the door was the surprised and smiling face of our hostess Helene who instantly recognised us from the previous year's stay. We are going back for two nights in May this year. It will be good to say hello once again.
 Rather than going direct to Azay le Rideau, we agreed on having lunch at Chinon to renew our memories with one of our very favorite French villages. We even had lunch at the Italian Restaurant in the main square.
Later we took a stroll up to the B & B where we stayed previously.
"Shall we knock on the door", I said to Sue. "yes, why not!" she replied. Helene answered the door and she instantly remembered us - how nice of her. We were invited in for a cup of tea and we chatted on for quite awhile before excusing ourselves for the drive to our next destination thirty kilometres further up the road.

There's not a great deal of words can be used to describe the chateau at Azay le Rideau. None can do justice to the sight before you - it takes your breath away. The reflections of the Chateau mirrored in the waters that surround it invite you to take constant photos from all angles - fairy tale stuff, really!

As we entered the gates of the Chateau,
I turned to see where we came from and took this shot.
Passing through the out building to pay our entrance fee,
the Chateau invited us in.
Sometimes less is more - I like the way the Chateau seems a little shy hiding behind the trees.
The views from inside looking out are magical.
Another shot looking from the inside outside.

It certainly was a long day - not quite sure how we put so much into one day. We arrived back at Thenay by 6.30 pm and Sue prepared a simple dinner of pate, cheese, salad and bread, washed down with some wine from the Touraine. A day to remember for years to come. Trouble is - Sue only reminds me of how dumb I was to forget my credit card on that day!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Azay-le-Rideau was the first Loire Valley castle I ever saw, way back in 1984! I've been back twice since then and I'm sure that it'll also be on my to see list the next time I'm in La Touraine. Like you, I can't seem to get enough of it. Martine

  2. Martine,
    Next time I think I would like to wander around the town. It was such a big day that we missed that.
    We may take the time to revisit while we are there in May.

  3. Sounds to me like it was a good idea that you left your credit card behind LOL. Fantastic photos and another tour of a place I have not seen. Thanks. Love that Renault :) Diane

  4. LLM,
    I think the history of Cardinal Richelieu and his ideal town as fascinating as the history of Joan of Arc.

  5. Definitely fairy-tale stuff ..... What a wonderful area and to see la petite voiture en rouge - oh la la! I've not been to this beautiful region of France but would very much like to..

  6. Dianne,
    When do you return for your next trip to France. Wednesdays in France has a few more posts before moving on to Burgundy and then back to Paris.

  7. All being well I'll be back in Paris mid year ..... But at this stage it's not set in concrete.

  8. It is a bitterly cold day here in Italy so I am staying warm and cosy by the fire and catching up on my blog reading. You seem to have a never ending number of French themed posts to share with us, I love the old Renault.

  9. LLM,
    We are hoping Oct 2013 might take us back to Italy - We'll see.


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