This is off the beaten track but we found it on the way to Loches and were so impressed we returned to visit. Driving south, it looks like a large barn and you don't even notice it. Driving north on the D764 from Loches, you approach Chateau Montpoupon and it looks like a perfect chateau sitting in the countryside. It is one of those, "I've got to stop and take a picture" moments.
We vowed to return and did a few days later. There is plenty of parking and you buy your tickets at the tower on your left as you enter the grounds. You can visit the tower and then the chateau. No photos are allowed inside the chateau because it is still a residence. The historic kitchen is separate and you can take photos there.
You leave the chateau and walk up a slight hill to the outbuildings and there is a Musee de Venerie on your right. (Hunting Museum) We entered and were enchanted. First, you may take photos. Second, you are accompanied by hunting horns (cors de chasse) playing hunting calls. There are many horns on display with all sorts of hunting memorabilia. It's a small museum and doesn't take much time but it's very atmospheric and the setting is lovely. Highly recommended.
The Chateau web page is listed below, but here is the Hunting Museum Web Page.
E-mail at email@example.com
Check the web site for prices.
During the XIVth century artillery arrived on the scene and thus changed the nature of warfare. Charles VII then Louis IX had a round tower built during the 15th century with machicolations and a gun terrace to better defend the Donjon at Loches.
Just in case you weren't aware, machicolations are where an overhang supported by corbels is built with holes in it that allow defenders to pour hot water or drop stones on attackers.
At 36 metres in height and situated on a prominence to begin with, this keep stands out from the surrounding countryside.
Constructed in the IIth century by Foulques Nerra, Count of Anjou, it was later renovated by the Conseil General of Indre et Loire with more passageways added so you can explore previously hidden places.
You can also walk around at the top with great views over the countryside.
Directly west of Poitiers, and served by regular SNCF buses, the attractive small town of PARTHENAY was once an important stop on the pilgrim routes to Compostela and is now the site of a major cattle market every Wednesday. It's not a place to make a special detour for, but it's worth a stopover if you're passing by.
Parthenay has some interesting stuff to see, like its medieval heart. Rue Jean-Jaurès and rue de la Saunerie cut in through the largely pedestrian shopping precinct to the Gothic Porte de l'Horloge, the fortified gateway to the old Citadel on a steep-sided neck of land above the loop of the River Thouet.
Through the gateway, on rue de la Citadelle, the attractively simple Romanesque church of Ste-Croix faces the mairie across a small garden, which offers views over the ramparts and the gully of St-Jacques, with its medieval houses and vegetable plots climbing the opposite slope. Further along rue de la Citadelle is a house where Cardinal Richelieu used to visit his grandfather.
Although it is a very nice building to see, it is easy to overlook it because of the huge gateway it is attached too. When you walk under the Picois Gate, the town hall will be on your right hand side. It was build between 1553 and 1543. I didn't go in since i was a bit pressed for time and I'm not sure one could go far. But the hallway should give a good impression of the buildings' interior
Every time you pas a gate of an earlier defense wall, you go back in time even more. When you've passed the citadel gate, this is the scene you'll see. The road to the left will get you to the church and the castle, The way ahead will lead to the keep. This is a place where you really can not loose your way since this is all there is.
The west end of the church is preceded by a 11C bell-tower and a narthex (or porch) as was customary at the time the church was built (12C). The main door is under the narthex , which itself is square with ribbed groin vaulting. The door is capped by a series of archivolts containing carved voussoirs of weird animals. They appear not to have properly planned a tympanum but have installed scenes of the Adoration of the Magi (left)and on the right them dreaming and being prompted by an angel. Mary is at the center. Along the jambs are single statues, one of Peter. These decorations are much worn but as 12C remnants are early sculptures. To the right (south) of the door is a stoup created from a hollowed-out Gallo-Roman column.
As one views the church from the South, it appears to have four steeples in a row, the outer two being taller. Indeed the tower on the left (west) is the bell-towe and is 11C with a newer top. The one on the far right is the crossing tower (12C). The two shorter ones are actually octagonal domes that cover the nave (just after 1150)). The use of domes as covering is so unusual that it will be treated as a General Tip. The church is Romanesque, mostly 12C and has a narthex and an interesting entry also covered separately. Inside, the church has only a nave and a south aisle but has a wide transept with tall barrel vault top providing clarity within.
The castle has two wings linked end to end. The older one is taller (north ,15C), was created for Charles VII and used primarily to house his mistress Agnes Sorel. The newer wing (south, 16C) was built for Charles VIII and Louis XII. The rooms are sparsely furnished and decorated. The most important one (historically) is preserved as the room in which Joan d'Arc convinced Charles VII to go to Reims to be crowned King establishing France as a sovereign state and legitimate entity. Another room houses the restored Tomb of Agnes Sorel (treated by us as a separate General Tip). Nearby a room houses a Crucifixion tryptich of the School of Jean Fouquet (15C). In the newer wing is a charming Oratory of Anne de Bretagne.
A tour is offered of the Keep and the attached Martelet during which its somber rooms and torture instruments are on view. The keep is 11C built by Fulk Nerra of Angers fame. It has buttressed walls that are 9 ft. thick. In one room Ludovico Sforza was kept in solitary confinement for 8 years. He created graffiti on the wall to help keep his sanity. Presumably, he dropped dead on reaching daylight when released.
The parking area was at the southwest end of the walled enclosure above. As we approached these ramparts, we walked into the shadow of a "Round Tower" and saw to the right the looming hulk of the 120 ft tall keep. These structures dominate the south end of the enclosure. We walked north along the west wall until we reached the only entry: the Porte Royale, built in the 15C between two 13C defensive towers.
Have a wander, have a look.
Look out for concerts held in the evenings. We didn't see the concert but we sat through part of the flutes rehearsal and it was very atmospheric... and that is why we didn't go to the concert because, according to our youngest, it was an "evil" atmosphere - I thought it was nice!
The dungeon was rather spooky, you could go underground and see where prisoners had been held for years and years. The torture chambers didn't much interest me though...
There was a story of a man who had been imprisoned for something like 25 years and he was finally let out. As soon as he reached the outside and saw the sun for the first time he died due to the shock. Don't really know if this is a true story, but it adds to the mystery surrounding the city.
I had no idea that this castle or town existed until the propriator at our bed and breakfast told us it was a castle not to be missed. The chateau and it's grounds include 11th century keeps, ramparts, dungeon, church and castle. Agnes Sorel, the mistress of Charles VII, lived in the castle. Don't miss her tomb.
While we were there there was a huge thunderstorm. It was kind of an eerie, yet authentic, feeling to be in an 11th century chateau and have the wind be howling and the rain pouring out outside!
One of the occupants of the keep was rather religious and he had a chapel build close to his quarters. It is placed above the only entrance up the tower as to protect it and its occupants.
It is on one of the upper floors and i had to get over a mesh floor in order to take the picture. So with a little sweaty palms and a quick dash over it , i managed. And felt extremely satisfied with myself once i was back on solid ground again...