The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Friday, 5 June 2009

New developments in Chinon - 1




The closest town to the cité idéale of Richelieu is the picturesque town of Chinon.  The mediaeval town runs along the north bank of the river Vienne below the towering castle rock. The castle was built by the many generations of Plantagenets who ruled much of western europe in the 12th  and 13th centuries from this very castle.  
Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine; their sons Richard 'coeur de lion', the famous crusader; his bother John, 'bad king John' of the legends of 'Robin Hood' and the English Magna Carta, all held court in this castle.  Later on, Joan of Arc passed through on her mission from God to help the Valois kings of France in their struggle with the usurper duc de Bourgogne and his allies, the witch-burning English.  Even later, our very own cardinal duc de Richelieu bought the sovereignety of Chinon in his quest to assemble a ducal estate, and so became the Governor of Chinon Castle (which he neglected - he was battling against castles and their intransigent and belligerant owners for most of his political career).

The castle is a big tourist attraction and the conseil général of 37 Indre-et-Loire wants to enhance its attractiveness to the tourist.

They have just built a striking new lift to connect the town below with the old castle above. The dramatic, fashionable and modern structure wisks the tourist upwards while offering panoramas of the sweeping valley of the Vienne.  A little further to the west at Candes St. Martin one can see the conjunction of the river Vienne with the Loire. This conjunction explains the strategic position of the fortress for a time when river travel was much safer and easier than journeys made cross-country.
(location on the map to the right)

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