Thursday, December 04, 2014

Richelieu - an intriguing past

Richelieu, like Chinon is a village that we seem to be drawn back to on each visit to the Loire. We think we might know the reason after this visit. It's not that Richelieu is a vibrant village - in fact quite the opposite. With each visit it seems to have familiar shops and businesses now closed. The houses seem a little neglected and yet the history of the village, like Chinon is fascinating.
Chinon has King Henry of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart and Jeanne d'Arc as part of its history and Richelieu of course has the Cardinal.

The great thing about travel and Blogging is that it opens your eyes to further knowledge. While writing this post, I started researching the Cardinal's history - all too much to relate here but I would suggest you delve into his life. He was one of the most powerful men of his era in French history.

The statue of Cardinal Richelieu stands at the gates of the vast parklands where his Chateau once stood.

I found this quote amongst many by the Cardinal on the internet which I guess gives some insight to his character.
"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

One of the reasons we wanted to return to Richelieu was to see the newly restored Market Halle and it also just happened to be market day at the time. We read a blog "Eminence Rouge" which is based on both the village and the Cardinal - 
You may find it interesting as it gives both history and also daily life of the village.

In process of the Cardinal building his "Ideal City" of the 17th century, building materials were brought from other fortresses and castles such as Chinon and a castle owned by Gaston d'Orleans at Champigny-sur-Veude. The castle originally built (1499) was acquired by the Cardinal and demolished (1635) in the process except for one section of the wall. The church, Sainte Chapelle remains as well.  In 1656, the land was returned and another chateau built which stands today. We travelled by the village on a previous trip and again this time.

These gates lead to Richelieu parklands where the Cardinal's Chateau once stood. 
Possibly because it was not the tourist season, we found that market day was attended by mostly locals and parking in the square was not difficult although we did arrive towards midday.
On our last visit to Richelieu, the Halle was in the early stages of renovation. It is a renovation rather than a restoration as there are a few modern concessions to comfort such as glasses in walls either side.

So we say goodbye to Richelieu and like Chinon, we wonder if we will ever have the opportunity to return in the future, yet they remain as travel memories - don't they.


  1. I have seen a lot of gates and gate houses in my travels, but the gates you photographed leading to Richelieu parklands must top the lot. Amazing!

    1. Hels - we have a soft spot for Richelieu and if we spent a few days, rather than the fleeting visits, it would open up a few hidden treasures.


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