Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sunday April 16 - Showdown at Chinon

Forteresse de Chinon spreads along the top of the bluff as we cross the Vienne River 

We're traveling in 2 cars with Christie and Alex, and Janis and Clark. Makes for some interesting twists and turns. Christie and Alex are navigating by Google maps on an unlocked cell phone that Alex has. They bought a sim card here in France and pay for data as they go. They find that Google maps is easier to use than the GPS in their car. It's certainly quicker to map than the GPS in our car. And they see route options that we don't see on our GPS. But they're young and we're old and we're lucky we can use the GPS in our car. 
Clark and Janis 

Alex and Christie
The fortress of Chinon played a pivotal role in the 100 Years War between England and France for property rights in western France. Complicated intermarriages, including that of Eleanor of Aquitaine who married and divorced the King of France before next marrying the future King of England was the root cause of the showdown between the French and English.

Chinon seen from the rear side
I’ve visited this mostly ruined fortress several times since the 1970s and I was impressed by how, without restoring anything physical, the interpretation of this ruin has been made more understandable and fun for tourists. Guidebooks in English are made available at the entrance. They each have a code on the front, which when scanned across the same code found in multiple places in the fortress, begins a multimedia presentation - in English. 

Sitting in the garden on a bench with this symbol, I was soon listening to the sounds of horses, chickens and both the master builder and Geoffrey, Duke of Anjou, and new owner of the castle (in the 1100s) discussing the building of this fort.

Looking down the ramparts of Chinon toward the royal  apartments
The castle sits on a promontory above the Vienne River with a town of narrow streets huddled against the cliff below the castle. It has been a fortified area since Gallo-Roman times. Re-worked many times since this era, the ruins that we see now date from the 15th century.

This is the castle where, in 1429, Joan of Arc convinced Charles of Valois (not yet crowned king due to the wars with England) to allow her to lead troops to Orléans. She defeated the English in this battle and led troops as far as Reims where Charles was crowned King Charles VII. 

Few of the buildings are left today, but the royal apartments have been restored and the rooms hold multi-media displays of events from the castle. There are no furnishings, but there are displays of Joan of Arc representations and models of the castle at various periods of time.

Clark at top of Coudray tower
The Coudray Tower and the second dry moat
Several towers can be visited. The Coudray keep was used to house guests and prisoners like those of the Knights Templar when they were disbanded.

Janis and Clark coming down from the tower - the stairs are a bit tricky

There are views of the town and river from ramparts and towers.
Our picnic area was on the grassy part of the sandbar on the far side of the river.

Looking west from the end of the castle

It's the castle toilet - look out below
A very narrow 5 story clock tower spans the castle entrance where the bridge crosses the dry moat.
Look closely at the right side of the vertical walls

We ate our picnic lunch across the river from the castle, once more a magnificent view.

No comments:

Post a Comment