Loudun   Amboise (Loire), Loches (Indre), Chinon (Vienne) et Louden (Vienne département)   Loches   Chinon

Amboise, once home to the French royal court (because the French King confiscated it from Louis d'Amboise, sometime Bishop of Albi, is today a small market town. The city is famous for the Clos Lucé manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived (and ultimately died). He had accepted the invitation of Francis I of France, whose Château d'Amboise dominates the tow, and is located a mere 500 meters away. At the beginning of France, Clovis I (466-511), the first Christian ruler of the Franks, signed a treaty of alliance with the Arvernians in 503 at Amboise. This agreement him to defeat of the Visigothic kingdom in the Battle of Vouillé in 507. The Edict of Amboise (1563) conceded the free exercise of worship to the French Protestants. It was followed some years later by one bearing the name of Nantes. Don't miss the Collegiate Church of Saint Denis or the conserved Chapel of the Château called Saint-Florentin (Leonardo da Vinci was buried here first), both in Amboise. Ecole des Trompes d'Amboise is highly touted by the city fathers at http://www.ville-amboise.fr/. Great, great pictures are HERE.

Touraine Amboise AC, an appellation (200 hectares) within the Touraine region (in the Loire Valley), rests east the city of Tours and west of Blois, within the broader Touraine wine production area. Touraine Amboise makes dry to medium dry white wines from Chenin Blanc grapes. Red wines (including some Rosés) are produced from Gamay, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc as well as Malbec. This appellation encompasses nine communes on both sides of the Loire River. At Easter, Amboise celebrates its annual wine festival in the imposing surroundings of the Château d'Amboise.

Loches comes from the Roman Leucæ The modern ville grew up around a monastery founded about 500 by a Saint named Ours or Ursus from Cahors, {not to be confused with Saint Ours de Soleure or Ursus, a third century martyre of Switzerland}. The town today lies at the foot of the rocky eminence on which stands the Château de Loches (and its 4+ meters thick wall-called Cité Royale), the castle of the Anjou family. Loches once belonged to the Norman Counts of Anjou from 886 until 1205. It was seized (after a siege that lasted a year) from King John of England (après la mort d'Henri II Plantagenêt) by Philip II Augustus (Philippe Auguste). From the middle of the 13th century until after the time of Charles IX of France, the castle was a residence of the kings of France. The French language link has much more comprehensive historic information. For a map showing how much territory the English lost, go HERE.

The church of St-Ours dates from the 10th century to the 12th century; among its distinguishing features are the huge stone pyramids surmounting the nave and the beautiful carving of the west door. The royal lodge, built by Charles VII of France and once used as the subprefecture, contains the tomb of Agnès Sorel and the oratory of Anne of Brittany. It was here on May 11, 1429 that Joan of Arc arrived, fresh from her historic victory at Orléans, to meet her sovereign. Noble Dauphin, ne tenez pas davantage tous ces conseils, si nombreux et si longs, venez donc au plus vite à Reims prendre la couronne à laquelle vous avez droit. Loches also has an hôtel-de-ville and several houses of the Renaissance period. The medieval town of Loches has a lively twice weekly market featuring local produce and wines. Its walled citadel is by far the most massive of the Loire valley style of fortress-Châteaux.

Just ten minutes away (by car) is the ancient village of Beaulieu-les-Loches. Its parish church is built into the ruins of the Abbaye de la Trinite, a Benedictine abbey collegiate church, built to house the bones of Foulque Nerra (dit Nerra, le Noir), the loathsome Count of Anjou who also established the dungeoned and thick-walled keep at Loches, as well as founded the abbey (1007), wherein was deposited a piece of the true cross. A twelfth century belfry still towers over the ruins of the Romanesque nave, which was damaged by fire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Chinon: Here met two Kings, who would rule France, for a parlez (The Lion in Winter) -- well at least in the world of movies. During the reign of Henry II (Henri Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou, was crowned King of England in 1154), the castle was rebuilt and extended, becoming one of his favorite residences. By 1205 like Loches, it was in the hands of the French (Philippe Auguste). Towards the end of the Hundred Years' War, the town took on a new lease of life, as the heir apparent, the future Charles VII, sought refuge (1418) in the province. The town remained faithful to him and he made lengthy stays at his court in Chinon. The town also claims a meeting of Ste. Jeanne d'Arc with her king in 1429.

La chapelle Saint Melaine a été fondée au Xe siècle par les moines de l’abbaye Saint-Pierre de Bourgueil. Sa construction a été achevée au XIe siècle. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbaye_de_Bourgueil C'est dans cette chapelle que mourut Henri II de Plantagenêt le 7 juillet 1189. Son corps fut laissé à l'abandon par ses serviteurs, recouvert d'un simple manteau. Il fut par la suite transporté à l'abbaye de Fontevraud. The Museum dedicated to Joan d'Arc is a primary tourist attraction along with the castle. An equestrian Statue of Ste. Joan has stood in Chinon, since dedicated in 1893 (sculpteur Jules Roulleau). It was first seen in Paris that year during les fêtes du 14 juillet.

Located in the entrance spot of the castle, under the Clock Tower, the Musée Jeanne d'Arc is one of the main attractions of Chinon. It contains a collection of artwork and objects about the Sainte and her stay in Touraine, compiled by the Association Chinon of the Knowledge Joan of Arc. The artworks express the diversity of her representations, varying materials and styles. Several equestrian statues from the nineteenth century can only be said to be extraordinary.

Chinon makes mostly red wine. They are based on Cabernet Franc grape variety (85%), known as {Cabernet} Breton in the area. A video where Gary Vaynerchuk tastes 2 Chinons (from the same producer and vintage) head-to-head, one of which carries the Vielles Vignes designation -- Herault Chinon & Herault Vieilles Vignes Chinon -- is HERE. Chinon produces also a dry rosé, good but hard to find. Rabelais (born circa 1490) is credited with a saying heard often in Chinon, Beauvez toujours, vous ne mourrez jamais, roughly translated as "drink always and you will never pass away." http://www.kilkelly.com/chinon.html

Loudun is just north of an area from which originates a significant portion of the Acadians, one of the early settlers of New France and Canada -- and later Louisiana. La Cité de Renaudot cache de nombreux trésors architecturaux, datant parfois du Moyen Âge, à découvrir en flânant le long des petites rues aux noms savoureux. La Porte du Martray is feature below to the right of the map. It dates from the 13th Century (XIIIe siècle). The Tour Carrée (XIe siècle) will give you an unsurpassed view of the area. The Collégiale church Sainte-Croix, which is under restoration, dates from the 12th and 13th Centuries and is full of paintings. La Maison de l'Art Roman contains an interesting collection of Roman artifacts. http://www.tourisme-vienne.com/office-tourisme/22/office-de-tourisme-de-loudun

The gallic tribe of the Loudunais occupied portions of l'Anjou, la Touraine et le Poitou. This tribal name derives from the celtic dunon, meaning hill fortress. Moving ahead 1000 years, in 986, William III of Poitiers and Geoffroy I Count of Anjou compete at a place called Les Roches Saint-Paul. As a result Anjou received the fief of Loudun, but as a vassal of William. Loudun depended on the counts of Anjou until 1206, when Philippe Auguste King of France partially takes over. Because the King of France considers Loudun a strategic position, he decides to replace the old castle by a new fortress to counter the powerful Plantagenêt line; however he only holds the area in trust, not in fee. Not until 1476, will Loudun be united to the French crown.

In 1568, as the struggles between Protestants and Catholics continue, Henri, King of Navarre, who was 16 years at the time, helped the Protestant army burn Collegiate of Holy Cross and the convent of the Carmelite church (Saint-Hilaire-du-Martray) among other Catholic holdings. The Duke of Anjou (the future Henry III) helped recover Loudun. A year later the Duke of Anjou inflicted a decisive defeat on the Huguenots (Montcontour). In 1584, the fortress built by Philippe Auguste, the palace of the Anjou and the fortified walls of Loudun on the floodplain below were demolished. Three years later, Navarre took possession of the city. After he became Henri IV, King of France, the area was hurt by French political intrigue. Loudun never regained its position of prominence.

Therefore today one finds a remarkable mix of architecture, some of it in ruins, some restored, in a very small town -- La collégiale Sainte Croix et son chœur roman, L'église Saint-Pierre et son portail Renaissance, L'église Saint-Hilaire (une ancienne chapelle du Couvent des Carmes) et son Vitrail « Transfiguration du Christ sur la montagne », beaux hôtels particuliers . . . http://www.ville-loudun.fr/pages/tourisme/sites.php


A few French Cities: Orléans -- Poitiers -- Nantes -- Tours -- Blois -- Le Mans -- Châtellerault & Châteauroux -- Limousin Region -- Bourges, Sancerre & Nevers -- Chartres -- Sens -- Blois
Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historicæ -- Anglo Saxons et.al.

Loches by Jules Gurin

Philip II Augustus would live to begin one of the greatest centuries of construction and education change. In Paris his capital, he paved main thoroughfares, built a central market (Les Halles), continued the work on the Gothic Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris and constructed the Louvre as a fortress. Philippe chartered the University of Paris in 1200, and under his guidance, Paris became the first city of enlightenment to emerge from the dark ages in Europe. A year after his death in 1223, poet Henry d'Andeli memorialized the great wine tasting competition that Philip II Augustus once had commissioned, la Bataille des Vins. An English priest tasted and ranked over 70 samples from France and across Europe, including Cyprus, Spain and the Mosel region. The excommunicated wines hailed from Chambilly (Saone-et-Loire, Bourgogne), Le Mans, Rennes, Étampes-sur-Marne (or Étampes in Essonne, Ile-de-France ?), Argences (Calvados, Basse-Normandie), Beauvais et Châlons-sur-Marne.

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