Thursday 16 january 2014
More of a palace than a château, Serrant has travelled through centuries without sustain any damage. The Renaissance château is built on the foundations of
a medieval fortress. In 1749, the estate was sold by the last surviving descendant of the de Bautru family and was bought by Antoine Walsh, a shipowner whose family were exiled Jacobites.
well as redecorating the interior of the castle, the Walsh family built an English style park, pavilions, and a monumental gate complete with the family crest. The château eventually passed out
of the hands of the Walsh family in 1830 when Valentine Walsh de Serrant married the Duc de La Trémoïlle. La Trémoïlle assigned Luciene Magne the task of restoring the castle
and several features, including parapets and cornices, were added. The La Trémoïlle family still own the château, and in the 20th century it was modernised with cellars and the introduction of
you can see, it presents similarities with Valençay, Villandry and Chenonceau. All very wonderful places to visit. The castle is notable for the library, stocked with 12,000 books; the
vaulted halls, originally home to the kitchens; and Napoleon's bedroom, which was never used by the Emperor as he stayed at the castle for only two hours. The chapel is also the final resting place for many of the Trémoïlle family (many of whom died from tuberculosis or during the flu pandemic of 1918). If
it isn't cold and raining, as it was on the day I visited, a walk through the park would be quite enjoyable I think.
By The Baguette
Thursday 16 january 2014
It has been quite some time since I’ve posted anything here and I apologize for that to anyone
who’s interested in reading what I have to say in my blog. Instead of doing my French homework or preparing for my English classes, I’m once again distracting myself from what is really
important. It’s hard to believe we are already in 2014. Happy New Year everyone! Anyway, back to my travels in the Loire over the summer… One of the places I visited was the Château du
Plessis-Bourré constructed in less than five years between 1468 to 1472 by Finance Minister Jean Bourré, the principal advisor to King Louis XI. The château has not been modified externally since its construction and still has a fully
working drawbridge. Its moats are among the widest in France. I have no photos of the interior because photography is strictly forbidden during the guided tour of the property. It still retains,
in the guardroom, an extraordinary painted ceiling. Many of the scenes which were painted some five centuries ago are still an unsolved mystery. Here is an excellent link to a French website that has some amazing photos of the painted panels as well as descriptions. The château also houses
other masterpieces such as tapestries, paintings, woodwork and furniture. This is an image of the immense courtyard. Looking back from the drawbridge, one can see the stables and outbuildings, now
used for exhibits and a souvenir shop.
By The Baguette
Wednesday 11 december 2013
The Château de Brissac is located in a fine park shaded by magnificent cedar trees. The building is unusual both because it is
exceptionally tall (the tallest château in France, they claim), and because it comprises two juxtaposed buildings one of which was intended to replace the other, rather than stand next to it.
1455 by Pierre de Brézé, Minister to Charles VII and then to Louis XI, the chateau was bought by René de Cossé in 1502 and has remained in the family ever since. René’s grandson, Charles de
Cossé, Count of Brissac, was one of the leaders of the League, the Catholic party which supported the Guises in the 16th
century. In 1594, as Governor of Paris, he handed the keys of the city to Henry IV who had arrived newly to Roman Catholicism at the city gates. In gratitude the king raised him to the status of
duke. The new duke began to rebuild his house but work was brought to a halt by his death in 1621 and the chateau has been left unaltered ever since. It was by far the most impressive chateau that I visited during my time in the Loire. Inside, the ceilings are still adorned
with superb tapestries. The Louis XIII staircase leads to the guardroom on the first floor as well as
the bedchamber where Louis XIII and his mother, Marie de Medici, were at least temporarily reconciled after the Battle of Les Ponts-de-Clé in 1620. There are a number of interesting rooms underneath the château including the
old kitchen and endless corridors that wind themselves around the foundations like rabbit warrens. In the Golden Drawing Room, many family souvenirs are on display. It was the first room that we visited and certainly the most
elegant. The top floor is the highlight of the visit to the château. It reveals indeed the most remarkable room: the theatre ! It was built at the initiative of the Marquise de Brissac, born Jeanne Say, who
undertook the restoration of the château in the late nineteenth century. Passionate opera and herself a talented performer, she built her own theater in a Belle Epoque style. I was amazed by the gilt
and red draperies that decorate this room. The park and
gardens equally offer agreeable walks under imposing century old trees, following flowered paths winding along the riverbanks of the Aubance. These walks evoke names such as Pierre de Ronsard, the gardener's cottage, the Mausolée and the five century vineyard.
yield 1,500 bottles of some of the worst tasting wine you will ever encounter. I’m not sure what the owners were thinking trying to sell this stuff to tourists but it certainly wasn’t a good
interesting part of the walk through the park is the family mausoleum built in the early nineteenth century in the neo-classical style.
By The Baguette
Thursday 5 december 2013
The monastery at Cunault along the banks of the Loire, downstream from Saumur, was founded in the fourth century by
Saint-Maxenceul the area’s first evangelizer. Monks from
Noirmoutier then founded an abbey here in 847 but were expelled from Cunault during the Viking invasions and fled to the Abbey of Tournus in Burgundy. They came back in 858, bringing with them
the relics of Saint-Philibert and a reliquary containing a vial of dust from the cave of the Nativity which was moist from the breast milk of the Virgin Mary—this led to the church being named in
her honor and drew many pilgrims to the region. A new church
was built in the 11th century and the priory was enriched through the favors of the lords of Anjou, Fulk IV Rechin and Fulk Nerra. After the Hundred Years War, the priory grew weak and was
closed. In 1749, the choir was sold to an individual who made it into a barn while the nave became a parish church. Finally, the building was sold as national property during the Revolution. Notre-Dame de Cunault is famous for its 223 carved
and painted murals that make a true artistic treasure. The church keeps its place the shrine of St. Maxenceul, the founder of the
abbey church. His reliquary is almost like a small church itself with a roof and a door. It is carved from a single block of walnut and depicts scenes from Christ’s life including the Last Supper and Pentecost.
This is a
piece of furniture inside the church which was used to store vestments.
By The Baguette