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.

Thursday 23 December 2010

The introduction to 'Cinq Mars' by Alfred de Vigny

Alfred de Vigny 1797 - 1863
"A conspiracy under Louis XIII"

This book written by Alfred de Vigny and published in 1826 starts with a bewitching description of Touraine.
Many say that it has the best portrait of the all-powerful cardinal duc de Richelieu, although every literary portrait seems to have its own political agenda, this one born of the 1820s.

"Do you know that charming part of our country which has been called the garden of France—that spot where, amid verdant plains watered by wide streams, one inhales the purest air of heaven?

If you have travelled through fair Touraine in summer, you have no doubt followed with enchantment the peaceful Loire; you have regretted the impossibility of determining upon which of its banks you would choose to dwell with your beloved. On its right bank one sees valleys dotted with white houses surrounded by woods, hills yellow with vines or white with the blossoms of the cherry-tree, walls covered with honeysuckles, rose-gardens, from which pointed roofs rise suddenly. Everything reminds the traveller either of the fertility of the land or of the antiquity of its monuments; and everything interests him in the work of its busy inhabitants.

Nothing has proved useless to them; it seems as if in their love for so beautiful a country—the only province of France never occupied by foreigners—they have determined not to lose the least part of its soil, the smallest grain of its sand. Do you fancy that this ruined tower is inhabited only by hideous night-birds? No; at the sound of your horse's hoofs, the smiling face of a young girl peeps out from the ivy, whitened with the dust from the road. If you climb a hillside covered with vines, a light column of smoke shows you that there is a chimney at your feet; for the very rock is inhabited, and families of vine-dressers breathe in its caverns, sheltered at night by the kindly earth which they laboriously cultivate during the day. The good people of Touraine are as simple as their life, gentle as the air they breathe, and strong as the powerful earth they dig. Their countenances, like their characters, have something of the frankness of the true people of St. Louis; their chestnut locks are still long and curve around their ears, as in the stone statues of our old kings; their language is the purest French, with neither slowness, haste, nor accent—the cradle of the language is there, close to the cradle of the monarchy.

But the left bank of the stream has a more serious aspect; in the distance you see Chambord, which, with its blue domes and little cupolas, appears like some great city of the Orient; there is Chanteloup, raising its graceful pagoda in the air. Near these a simpler building attracts the eyes of the traveller by its magnificent situation and imposing size; it is the chateau of Chaumont. Built upon the highest hill of the shore, it frames the broad summit with its lofty walls and its enormous towers; high slate steeples increase their loftiness, and give to the building that conventual air, that religious form of all our old chateaux, which casts an aspect of gravity over the landscape of most of our provinces. Black and tufted trees surround this ancient mansion, resembling from afar the plumes that encircled the hat of King Henry. At the foot of the hill, connected with the chateau by a narrow path, lies a pretty village, whose white houses seem to have sprung from the golden sand; a chapel stands halfway up the hill; the lords descended and the villagers ascended to its altar-the region of equality, situated like a neutral spot between poverty and riches, which have been too often opposed to each other in bitter conflict."
le château de Chaumont
for the complete work:

Merry Christmas

be so good as to click 'ere/ faites un déclic ici s.v.p.

Joyeux fêtes 2010

'absolutism grabs the steering-wheel'
Msgr. Henri Proust

Thursday 16 December 2010

Nearly mid-winter

Caspar David Friedrich
September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840


Thursday 2 December 2010

The town's planning development proposals are revised

 - le Plan Local d'Urbanisme -
(or PLU)
The development plan for the Cité Ideale de Richelieu and its modest conurbations has been the subject of reconsideration and updating by the minicipality.  The policy results have just been published by the townhall for public consultation.  
Until today's revisions, the planning directions for the town were the consequences of a policy of protection outlined in the 1960s and 80s.  This new 2010 revision brings these policies up-to-date and corrects those aspects of development policy that were found to be either counter-productive or to have unforeseen negative qualities.

But when? - O when? - are they going to complete the longed-for by-pass sector whose alignment is established but incomplete.  Meanwhile every Euro-truck in France grinds past the walls of the town.  Look at page three below to see the problem.
click on each image if you want to read on....


Wednesday 1 December 2010

Our Mayor - no longer a secretary of state after Sarko's reshuffle

With the reshuffle of the cabinet of President Sarkozy on 14 November 2010, our Maire, 
M. Hervé Novelli, now only the

found himself out of a post.  He remains a member of parliament and of course, much the most significant for us,
Mayor of Richelieu.

It is not easy to remain at the pinnacle of power in the centralised French state.  The more impressive that Armand Jean cardinal duc de Richelieu stayed at this sharp pinnacle for more than twenty years, albeit in the seventeenth century.  But not so bad either for M. Novelli to be compared with his great predecessor.


Tuesday 30 November 2010

The avenues of the parc in november

The late november sunshine falling on the algae on the trunks of the windswept trees of the park's avenues bathe the entire scene with a green light, while other visitors walk the dog.


Wednesday 24 November 2010

Henri Proust now has an I-pod touch g4

For the first time a blog post has been made from a handheld device operating on a wi-fi system, in this particular case in France.


Friday 12 November 2010

....still blogging....

Although the great eponymous cardinal duc is almost of iconic status representing La France for the anglo-saxon world, he is far from the only French icon.  
Here are the Citroën DS (Déesse!) 19 Pallas and the liner La France at Le Havre - in the hey-day of the novelle vague* 1960s.
Nice drawing isn't it?
*strictly 1958 - 1964

Saturday 2 October 2010

....where are the bar staff?

Richelieu brandy's the toast of Zambia and South Africa......apparently.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

'La Locomotion' - the biennial car meet

Every second year the AUVL (Association d'Utilitaires de la Vallée de la Loire) organises a huge rendez-vous of old vehilcles that fills the cardinal duc's parc for a weekend.  This time, for 2010, it also hosted the GREC (Grande Rassemblement Européene Cadillac) with the Cadillac LaSalle Club France as specialist hosts.

The highlight really is the Sunday morning run that cruised 50 km around the various cantons of the pays de Richelieu followed by a communal motorist's luncheon under the trees of the park.

We must briefly mention those plucky motorists from the Bristol Austin Seven Club who managed to wobble their way from their home to this distant parc.  A 1930's radiator was replaced at the roadside by their mechanical wizards from Birmingham hidden (allegedly) in the club's only-too-Gallic corrugated Citroën H support van.

Below a collection of images of the meeting.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Lime rendering a garden wall

The garden walls of 16 Grande Rue are shown being re-rendered in lime mortar.  First, all the old lime render was hacked off, and then the two artisans started on this skilled task that will entirely encase the old 17th century coursed rubble wall within.  Hand skills such as this are still quite the norm in the Loire valley.  There are so many historic buildings of quality that require these traditional skills to survive, that it is expected that non-specialist builders can execute them as much their conservation specialist colleagues.

click on the image for a nice big version to open

Sunday 12 September 2010

Les Caves Painctes in Chinon and the Entonneurs Rabelaisiens

Here is a short movie of a gala dinner held in the underground 'Caves Painctes' in the ancient Plantagenet town of Chinon, located deep within the castle rock itself.  Allegedly, this is the location of the cellars owned by the father of the 16th century Humanist writer François Rabelais, and referred to directly in the 1534 adventures of the giant Gargantua and his own son Pantagruel.  A ritual ceremony installed a few of the 300-strong Cadillac Lasalle Club France party into the society of 'Entonneurs Rabelaisiens - the funnelers/barrel fillers(?) of Rabelais', a dinner club started in 1962 that celebrates the famous red wine of Chinon and its most fervent admirer, François Rabelais himself.

Your blog's author, the Abbé Henri Proust, was elevated to the rank of Chevalier of the Entonneurs Rabelaisiens on the 3rd of September 2010 (for services rendered etc.....).  What an honor, and frankly what a responsibility!; to act as advocate for the Humanist and gourmand world-view of Rabelais and as an ambassador for the gorgeous cabernet franc wines of AOC Chinon.

HARD work; but someone has to do it!

Readers, friends, if you turn these pages
Put your prejudice aside,
For, really, there's nothing here that's outrageous,
Nothing sick, or bad — or contagious.
Not that I sit here glowing with pride
For my book: all you'll find is laughter:
That's all the glory my heart is after,
Seeing how sorrow eats you, defeats you.
I'd rather write about laughing than crying,
For laughter makes men human, and courageous.


< Beuvez tousjours, vous ne mourrez jamais >

Sunday 8 August 2010

The new music widget

Henri Proust has added a music 'widget' in the side bar to the right, having found it on another blog

All one has to do is click on the little arrow and a playlist of French period music will play while you look at the blog site.  HP couldn't figure out how to implant a new playlist of his own, so he has filched the one from the site about daily Versailles photographs.  

One day when he has time he will try to work it all out and get music from the seventeenth century rather than the eighteenth.


Tuesday 3 August 2010

Inside 15 Grande Rue - formerly 'Le musée du chat'

During the festival of Cape and Rapier, it was possible to look into the back court of the hôtel particulier that was formerly Madame Le Roy's Musée du chat - the cat museum - number 15 Grande Rue.  It has new owners and has been cleared so that restoration can be carried out.  Today this building is the only hôtel on the Grande Rue that is not finished in lime render.  Although the exposed rubble walls have picturesque qualities to today's eye, this would have looked very common to the 17th century owner, as it would tell that the owner was a more a farmer or other rude mechanical than a gentleman.  The cardinal's original detailed specification for the houses asked for rendered façades to the mansions, with tuffeau ashlar quoins and string courses.  Perhaps economy would drive the rear dependances and stables to be more humble and to have exposed coursed rubble walls (and even vulgar roman tiled roofs!), but  the removal of the render from the main house facades would have been unthinkable, both for reasons of watertightness and of blatant snobbery.  One can see in the ashlar-work window surrounds, where the particular stone used happened to be too large, that the original mason has hacked the face back to allow the adhesion of the render that he assumed was to follow.  One can observe this detail in the re-rendering of other Grand Rue houses too.

But nonetheless the stripped old building has a particular charm.  Madame Le Roy had laid out a picturesque garden too, but this has been cleared as well.
The rather lumpy building at the foot of the garden on the site of the hôtel's écuries or stables needs re-roofing to replace the nasty cement tiles used in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century on the inauthentic mansard-like roof section.

But soon, presumably, these views will become the 'before shots' of a major restoration.

Monday 2 August 2010

Frédéric Mitterrand marries ‘Culture’ and ‘Tourism’

" The town of Richelieu will now benefit from State support for its future cultural development. The Minister inaugurated the Espace Richelieu:, a cultural centre that tells the story of the cardinal and his ideal town, and signed a three-year agreement of support for the town’s restoration projects.

The Cardinal has always fascinated the man of culture. Frédéric Mitterrand, now the French Minister of Culture, would have talked for hours if only his ministerial duties had not pressed him into a full day of travel all across Touraine.  He finally completed it all with eyes wide open and many an admiring glance.

Before doing a tour of châteaux highlighting the vital work of private owners, the Minister of Culture was greeted in Richelieu by the Mayor, who is none other than his colleague and friend in government, Hervé Novelli, Secretary of State for Tourism.

And if some official visits must sometimes seem tedious, the rediscovery of Touraine by a Frédéric Mitterrand, now in his role of a minister, was anything but a chore.

It must be said that both the Secretary of State for Tourism and Minister of Culture share the belief that the two political portfolios are often complementary, even fusional. Already signatories to a charter to combine tourism and culture to enhance the general attractiveness of the Hexagon – France itself - the two men have now initiated an agreement on cultural development between the State and the humble town of Richelieu for a period lasting three years.

Obviously the Ideal City as conceived by cardinal duc de Richelieu, cannot, with its mere 2,000 souls, carry out alone the development of a 'place that has the capability to become a cultural exception and mediator', in the words of Frédéric Mitterrand, enthusiastic after visiting the new Espace Richelieu:, created in a former grand mansion that had been renovated by the actor Gérard Klein.  The exhibit, with much museum display equipment, a virtual tour of the missing château de Richelieu in stereo 3D, and many other detailed memorabilia, welcomes the visitor and audience at the very heart of the 1640s cité idéale. The agreement will also allow the renovation of les halles, the ancient and original market building from the seventeenth century, and many other actions to enhance the attractiveness of the town of Richelieu, as well as creating a ‘Richelieu Circuit’.

Eloquent about the 'almost Shakespearean dimension of relations between the cardinal duc de Richelieu and King Louis XIII', Frédéric Mitterrand called for a ‘tourism of excellence’ for which Touraine has so many major advantages. The Minister saw confirmation of these qualities throughout the entire day’s visit."

Translated from Patrick Goupil’s article in La Nouvelle Republique 23/7/2010
We hope they won’t mind a little extra media circulation!

The Minister of Culture admits his passion for Richelieu.  The Homme Rouge as he is called on a panel from the exhibit in the Espace Richelieu:, consecrated to the Cardinal in his own town.