Château Royal de Blois: Tour de Foix + Town Roofs
“But what most strikes the eye of the traveler at Blois is an old, though still unfinished castle. Its huge parapets of hewn stone stand upon either side of the street; but they have walled up the wide gateway, from which the colossal drawbridge was to have sprung high in air.”
— from “Outre-Mer” 1835 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
About the middle of the 10th century, Thibaud I is le compt de Blois. He founded a dynasty that remained in control of the region of Blois until 1230. Blois became the most important town in the region. The first stone castle was built to protect the town dates to the time of Thibaud and his family. The best preserved Mediaeval tower from this time stands on a terrace within the château’s confines overlooking the Loire.
On the southwest terrace, overlooking St. Nicolas Church, the city and the River Loire, is Tour de Foix, which was part of the feudal enclosure. The tower is the only remaining vestige of the Mediaeval castle. Gaston d’Orleans intended to build an astronomic observatory from the top of the tower. The large marble basin outside the Tower comes from the castle’s Mediaeval gardens.
The Tower gives the town’s quartier below it its name. This former corner tower to the Mediaeval fortress was built on four levels, three of them vaulted and poorly lit by arrow slits. The lowest level is, today, under the terrace.
From this terrace where the tower stands we could look down upon the gray slate roofs of the city (see photos #2 & #3). The slate is plentiful in the region and most houses, especially in the towns, have roofs made of slate.