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 30 April 2012

A new agreement about the management of the parc and château

Patrick Gerard and Mayor Novelli sign the agreement
The agreement over the management of the Park by the Community of Communes and the Town of Richelieu was officially signed on Friday in the hall of the Richelieu Museum.

Patrick Gerard, Rector of the Universities of Paris, and Richelieu's Maire Novelli have finalized the binding agreements which endure for a period of thirty years; the Sorbonne remains as owner, in co-operation with with both the two local authorities, the Conseil Général of the Départment of Indre-et-Loire (who until recently covered the maintenance costs), and the Town and Communes of Richelieu. The Town & Communes will now take on the responsibility for these costs, as the Conseil Général has now ceased financial contributions - from the end of  year 2012.  It had shouldered these since former arrangements made in 2005.

This conclusion ends the worrying uncertainty about the future of the château de Richelieu and parc's historic building complex, which are inseparable from the history of the town of Richelieu and the history of the whole district.

Patrick Gerard said that the Universities of Paris no longer wished to bear a financial burden that they think is incompatible with their current teaching activities. So they had initially planned to sell the property, as has been done recently with another château in the département of Sarthe.

It was not found financially feasible for the Cité and the Community de Communes to fully acquire this important and historic area from the Sorbonne. The compromise that has finally been found helps keep the parc and château  in the interests of the entire 'Pays de Richelieu'. Although the full annual bill will exceed 100,000 € - costs related to the fact that the staff remain in place - it will be necessary to find partners and new users of the site to find a new fiscal balance.

For Hervé Novelli, this outcome is: "Both an ending and a beginning", which avoids a  split between the population and it's park, while remaining true to the spirit of the Cardinal.


La convention de reprise de la gestion du Parc par la communauté de communes et par la commune a été officiellement signée vendredi à la salle du Musée. Patrick Gérard, Recteur des Universités de Paris et Hervé Novelli ont finalisé les accords liant pour une durée de trente ans, la Sorbonne propriétaire des lieux, aux deux collectivités locales. Ces dernières se substituent ainsi au Conseil Général qui cesse dès la fin de cette année de participer aux frais d'entretien comme il le faisait depuis 2005.Cette conclusion met fin aux incertitudes concernant le devenir de l'ensemble immobilier historique, indissociable de l'histoire de la ville de Richelieu et de tout le canton. Patrick Gérard a rappelé que les Universités parisiennes ne souhaitaient plus assumer une charge financière incompatible avec leur activité d'enseignement. Elles envisagent donc de vendre la célèbre propriété comme cela a été fait récemment dans la Sarthe pour un château. Il n'était pas possible financièrement pour la ville et la communauté de communes de faire l'acquisition de cet important domaine. Le compromis finalement trouvé permet de le conserver dans l'intérêt de tout le Pays de Richelieu. Même si la facture annuelle dépassera les 100.000 euros (frais liés au fait que le personnel reste en place) Il va donc falloir trouver avec les partenaires utilisateurs du site, un moyen d'équilibrer. Pour Hervé Novelli, ce dénouement est : « A la fois un épilogue et un commencement »qui évite la scission entre la population et son Parc tout en restant fidèle à l'esprit du Cardinal.
from Nouvelle Republique

Thursday 26 April 2012

Carrefour contact arrives

Richelieu is a small village/town of about 2000 souls.  This local population does not command a very sophisticated retail service, and much of that modest requirement is served by the only major supermarket, Les Mousquetaires, in the neighbouring faubourg, la coupure du parc (the snippet of the park) which is tied, not to the town of Richelieu itself, but that of neighbouring Chaveignes.  This came about no doubt because the protected old walled town had no opportunity for a grand surface with its adjacent parking lots.  And this grand surface has to cater to the large rural population that encircles the cardinal's ideal town to a distance of 10 or 15 kilometres.

But for those who live intramuros - within the walls - daily shopping requirements could always be met from the small supermarket called Shopi at 26 rue de Loudun, off the main market square.  Everybody was fond of this little supermarket, but was nervous of the inevitable crushing competition of the much larger Les Mousquetaires.  It is nice to go shopping locally on foot or on a bike.

Although modest in some ways, Shopi had the reputation of including the best butchery counter in the town, particularly for its meat supply quality.  HP himself was always impressed that one could buy products, eggs for example, sourced from named local farms.

Suddenly we realised on 1 April 2012 that France no 1 supermarket chain, Carrefour, was going to 're-brand' Shopi and create a convenience shopping market now called Carrefour contact in its place.

Here is their policy statement:

The renewed and refurbished version of the supermarket opened on 19 April 2012.

  • Monday - Saturday 8 00 h - 20 00 h
  • Sunday - 9 00 h to 13 00 h

good old shopi
the builders move in - and at full pace

the smart new façade

the logo of Carrefour contact

the rebranded sign
publicity posted through each front door explains...

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Views of the new tourist office, opened in April 2012

The Office de Tourisme has now opened in its new location next to the church, in the place du Marché, the square at the southern end of the Cité Idéale.  By relocating this important facility for visitors, the town has restored an hôtel particular which occupies an important and conspicuous location in the regular and symmetrical urbanism.

Formerly the whole building looked to be generally in a bad state, especially this part of it, the former shop Grand Colbert.  While the external corner has now been restored, the other half (or is it two thirds?) onto the square still needs restoration and awaits the necessary investment.

The opposite number of this hôtel, across the square, has recently been restored from the first floor upward, and still awaits the completion of the restoration of the ground floor façade; hardly the most difficult aspect but one that involves the 'correction' of two rather ragged retail sub-façades, one of which is designed in a wholly inappropriate manner.

former posts on the tourist office:

the newly restored corner site, next to the church, on the place du Marché.

opening hours

reflecting on Richelieu

the façade to the place du Marché

the 'approved' (B-d-F) ground floor window in 17th century style
the old location was cute too...

in low morning light, looking towards the porte de Loudun


Saturday 21 April 2012

Dukes of the 19th century and a Princesse de Monaco

The seventh and penultimate duc de Richelieu et Fronsac 1879-1880!,
short-lived husband of the rich and beautiful Marie Alice Heine,
Marie Odet Richard Armand de la Chapelle de Saint Jean de Jumilhac 1879-1880
his son, Marie Odet Jean Armand de la Chapelle de Saint-Jean de Jumilhac 1875-1952,
 eighth and last duc de Richelieu et Fronsac 1880-1952

Marie Alice Heine of New Orleans USA 1858 1925,
daughter of the Paris/Berlin/New Orleans banker Michel Heine, himself a relative of the German poet Heine,
being both young, beautiful and stinking rich,
who after the speedy death of the seventh duc de Richelieu re-married the Albert, Prince of Monaco,
and so became at a young age, Princesse de Monaco, dowager duchesse de Richelieu.
(8th duc Marie Odet's mum)


Friday 20 April 2012

Le petit château du parc de Richelieu

looking from the loggia of the petit chåteau towards the Dôme,
last fragment of the original 17th century chåteau.
The Abbé Henri Proust has finally been invited into the petit chåteau that was built in the 19th century within the then much debilitated ducal park of the first cardinal duc de Richelieu, Armand-Jean du Plessis.  When all the successive dukes had finally died out (in 1952, long after the abolition of the aristocracy!) this country house was used as a 'grace and favour' hunting lodge for successive rectors of the Sorbonne in Paris, the famous institution of which Armand-Jean himself had been rector in the 17th century.

access to this building was arranged by François Côme of the Maisons Paysannes de Touraine
with many thanks!