Sunday, May 27, 2012

In the footsteps of history - CHINON CASTLE

I walked in the footsteps of King Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine. 

We are now in Paris but before you join us for our six days here, we have some catching up to do.
Two nights in Chinon was on our schedule as we'd been twice before and love the atmosphere of the place. The wine, the food and of course. We had perfect hosts again in Helene and Jean Michel. Our B and B is something out of past with modern services. It's part of the church and is from medieval times.
Last time we stayed here, we did all the tourist things and traveled heaps of kms to visit all the "must see" Chateaux. Not this time - the only big visit was looking down on us from up the hill from the river Vienne.

The clock tower of Chinon Fortress
I trudged the steps of the steep incline to the fortress rather than use the newly installed lift to get some idea of how it may have been in times gone by.
I walked in the footsteps of King Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine. I saw the room, or what remains where Jeanne d'Arc supposedly met the Dauphin Charles VII.

We were previously here in 2008 and 2009 and much scaffold encased the castle while reconstruction was in operation. We'd never ventured to the castle previously but today I did.

This plaque marks the location where Jean d'Arc met with the Dauphin, the future King of France - Charles VII. 
You can see the plaque that lies beside the large fireplace in this picture and one assumes that this is where Jeanne d' Arc approached the Dauphin despite Charles hiding his identity by having another of his men dressed in royal robes. 
The information booklet tells me that the fortress had its beginnings in the first century as a Gallic residence and was the birth of a Gallo-Roman settlement. It wasn't for another 11 centuries that Henri II Plantagenet Count of Anjou and King of England added to the construction of the fortress. He died there in 1189.
The Vienne River stretches either side of the fortress and lazily makes its way through France. 
High above the village of Chinon at the fortress you get a great view looking over the rooftops and the Vienne river from a different perspective.
Another 230 plus years pass by after King Henry's death before Joan of Arc arrives to meet with Charles VII and requests an army to defeat the English to end the 100 year war. Wow! This is where it happened.
Chinon turned on a delightful day for my wander through history. With the rebuilding of Chinon Chateau and fortress, we can get a view of history gone by. The rebuilding may not be the original thing but we can dream of what it was.

Vineyards seem to cover much of the land in the Loire. In the Charante is seemed to be their white cows. Each region has its specialities throughout France.
We try to drink local wines when travelling and the wines of Chinon and Saumur are some of our favourites.
Then there are the Sancerres and Vouvrays. The Touraine make some lovely rose's that we buy at home but to drink them locally is a bit of a buzz.
Jeanne d'Arc - Joan of Arc is one of my favourite heroines. I've read books, seen the Hollywood impressions and even have an early silent movie on her trial. The same for King Henry, Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine, I find the history fascinating. If you're looking for the Hollywood version on film, "The Lion in Winter" might interest you. There's two versions and from memory, the first with Kathryn Hepburn and Peter O'Toole is my preferred version. It has a great opening scene where Eleanor returns from 15 years of imprisonment in England. She arrives by boat on the Vienne River. Henry meets her at the riverside and they walk up to the fortress gates. To be at the same location almost 1000 years later lets your mind wander a little about how life may have been in Chinon.

Within the Castle is a room set aside for a display of Jeanne d'Arc history - below are some of the pictures captured on my visit.

The bronze statue shows Jeanne d'Arc most probably in battle with the English at Orleans.
Behind is the white statue that I imagine is her hearing voices from above and being told of the mission before her.
A tapestry depicting the meeting of Charles and Jeanne d'Arc.
Note that she is knelt in front of the third person from the left and is pointing at him - not the person in royal robes.

A poster from 1956 with Jeanne d'Arc and the fortress in the background.

The "Mythology" even extended to the USA
 to promote the buying of War Saving Stamps.
Jeanne d'Arc returns from battle after defeating the English at Orleans.
Jeanne d'Arc kneels at the now King of Frances throne after fulfilling her destiny.
As I finish this post, it is 9.00 am and I can hear the bells of Paris ringing - the sky is cloudless and the temperature is said to be 25 degrees today - perfect weather for absorbing the sights of Paris.

I'm about to catch up on daily pictures of our French travels on the other blog later today - go to 


  1. Yet another place we need to visit and not really that far from us. Thanks for sharing these great photos and history notes with us. Looking forward to the news from Paris.

    Please learn to add links to your post so much easier to just click on your other blog :) When in new post or edit, you will see up the top next to add photo a place that says Link. Just click on that and add the link and hey presto it is on your post. Easier for your followers :))
    Take care and enjoy Paris. Diane

  2. Thanks for the advise - after almost three years I'm still learning. I'll give it a go now.

  3. Chinon is one of my favorite places. You obviously enjoyed it tremendously. Yay! Looking forward to your stories from Paris. :)

  4. Chinon is great but I hear that there are some nice villages down the road a bit on the Cher.


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