Château Royal de Blois: The Chapel, Part I
“Blois, among all the other cities of the Loire, is the favorite with the tourist. Here one first meets a great chateau of state; and certainly the Château de Blois lives in one’s memory more than any other chateau in France.”
— from “Castles and Chateaux of Old Touraine” 1908, by Francis Miltoun
Tastes may have changed since Mr. Miltoun wrote his book in 1908. If this town and its castle are popular with tourists they were not visiting the day we did. Few were tourists at the château; that was a welcome relief from the crushing crowds at Château de Chenonceau.
The town of Saint-Calais takes its name from a French hermit Calais, who was the founder of the monastery of Anisole. King Childebert I granted him land, after a forest encounter while the king was hunting.
La chapelle de Saint-Calais was established by monks in the Middle Ages when the castle was still in the hands of le comte de Blois. These monks had fled Saint-Calais, a monastic market town not far from Blois to the northwest, bringing along the relics of their sainted founder.
La chapelle de Saint-Calais was rebuilt by Louis XII. In November 1508 it was consecrated by Antoine Dufour, bishop of Marseille and Queen Anne’s confessor.
Forming the end point of the southern arm of the Louis XII Wing, the present-day facade was created entirely by Félix Duban in the 19th century, when this French architect carried out extensive renovations to the whole castle. The chapel’s nave was destroyed when Gaston d’Orléans’s Wing was built; only the choir remains.
Above the entry door, Duban has recreated the L, for Louis XII, the A, for Anne de Britagne (see photos #3 & #4). Next to the L is a shield with the royal fleur-de-lys; and next to the A is a shield with ermine tails, Anne’s emblem.