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.

Monday, 17 May 2010

tempête Xynthia

This raging storm passed through Richelieu on the 28 February 2010. In the domainal parc of the château de Richelieu the tall, tall plane trees took the brunt of the wind. Most of them survived and live on but an occasional tree in the lofty avenues was shattered in the storm's fury.

The foresters quite quickly reduced the fallen into nice stacks of split logs. The price of firewood slumped, especially if you need plane tree wood.

The tempest past, the ethereal calm of the parc is now re-established and the canals mirror the plentiful surviving trees. The newly restored handrails on the canals' bridges in 'permitted' oxbood paint now seem to have weathered in well. And shrunk a bit.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

King Henry II, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard Coeur-de-Lion

These great monarchs were buried in the abbey church at Fontevraud, 15 miles NW from Richelieu.  Henry / Henri and Eleanor / Alienor, father and mother of King Richard I 'the Lionheart', Robin Hood's absent true king of England, and his brother 'bad' King John, the hero of the Magna Carta of 1215 limiting the power of the English Monarchy;  all three men Kings of England, but vassals of the King of France on the continent.  French speaking members of the Plantagenet dynasty who ran their huge domain from Chinon castle.

Richard I at Westminster

The abbey had a very noble pedigree and was always administered by an abbess during the ancien regime.  The inconvenient or devout daughters and dowagers of the high nobles of France filled its echoing corridors up to 1789.

After that it became a notorious Napoleonic high security prison with many famous inmates, even the recent well-known writer Jean Genet, author of 'A thief's journal'.

It has now been restored in its entirety and yearns for a multitude of sweet new novices to fill its immaculate rooms.  But the daughters of today's celebrities prefer clubbing in Ibiza, Mustique and Dubai!
find the location on the map to the right ------>


Monday, 10 May 2010

New activites on the mansions of the Grande Rue

New parigot owners move in to the hôtel particulier number 5 Grande Rue

An entry-gate clean-up of 11 Grande Rue, 
the only hôtel particulier wth a side entrance on rue Traversière

Work continues on the comprehensive restoration of number 14 Grande Rue
with a concrete delivery, while the main façade masonry is being repaired

The restored rear range of 14 Grande Rue in its new flamboyant colours, and

the half-complete new slate roof at the rear of number 14
with 5 new dormers.

no town is complete without its own polo field

Behind a line of houses along the coupure du parc - the snippet of the park - a 19th century suburb of Richelieu carved out of the northern extremity of the ducal parc, is that grandiose and stylish asset, a 300 x 200m polo field. Not only a polo field, but a string of live polo ponies as well.

We will have to stop calling it 'that poor little town of Richelieu', or maybe insist that all the BIG money lives in Chaveignes, the little commune that includes the coupure du parc.

Location on the map in the column to the right....

And the local taxes are lower in Chaveignes, they say.

Persian polo as played in the 1550s

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Bacchus? - Obélix? - Mandragore? - Depardieu?

The keystone of the Orangery of the château de Richelieu built in the 1630s to designs by Jacques Lemercier has this blobby portrait in vine leaves? hop leaves? cut in the 'tuffeau' stone work. One can see many images incorporated, not just the hirsute face......

Thursday, 6 May 2010

the 'dolmen' at Ligré - 5km from Richelieu

Stonehenge is more impressive, it is true, but not by that much.  On a hill top above the wine village of Ligré to the north west of Richelieu we find the dolmen or burial tomb that overlooks the sweep of the river Vienne.
One itches to get the one fallen stone upright to re-complete the stability this ancient structure.
Was it covered with an earthen burial mound?
It makes it clear that even in pre-history the region was influential.  In later centuries Chinon castle, a couple of miles away, was to rule the Europe of the Plantagenets from Spain to Hadrian's wall in Scotland.   Touraine has been the play-park of noble families and kings for a long, long time.

p.s it is now stranded in a field of rape seed; last year it was sunflowers, I think.
see the location on the map of Richelieu locations to the right....


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

the Grande Rue internet cafe owner & photographer J.L.L.

Jean-Louis Lawrence runs an internet cafe located on the Grande Rue.  He is an expert in l'informatique and computer installations of all sorts.  Fascinated by the digital camera, his shop is filled by photos that show his love of the cité idéale of Richelieu.  The shop is, like all internet cafés, quite a hub for the town and is often full of every sort of person clicking away.

He too runs a blog on events in the town - but this time in the native French language.
Here is the address: