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Local Color

Henry and Eleanor at the Abbey of Fontevraud

Henry and Eleanor at the Abbey of Fontevraud


If you saw the movie "The Lion In Winter" then you already know that the Plantagenet empire was partly centered in Chinon castle. Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart was brought back to Chinon to die after being attacked during a siege. The Abbey of Fontevraud, the last residence of Eleanor of Aquitaine, is a few kilometers away. Eleanor herself followed her husband Henry II Plantagenet throughout the Touraine, and often stayed at Chinon. It is said that Chinon was Henry's favorite castle.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Chinon Castle from across the river Vienne

Chinon Castle from across the river Vienne


A few centuries later, Joan of Arc came to Chinon on her mission to embolden Charles VII to take a stand against the English. She would have passed right in front of 29 Rue Voltaire on her way to practice weapons handling, and she prayed at the church of St. Maurice a stone's throw down the street from the front door before heading up the winding road to the castle to meet Charles VII for the first time. The story goes that the King tried to trick her by dressing as a commoner among noblemen, but she knew him immediately and knelt before him, ignoring another man dressed in the king's garments.

The castle has undergone a major renovation and in it there is a museum devoted to Joan of Arc.

François Rabelais

François Rabelais


Chinon is the home of Francois Rabelais, a 16th century writer of satiric novels and a grandiose figure in French literature. His parent's home where he was raised is a stone's throw away. Another literary great who lived nearby at Sache is Balzac. The mathematician and philosopher Descartes (from whom we get the Cartesian coordinate system) lived nearby in the town called Descartes. Leonardo Da Vinci lived his final years at Le Clos Luce, not far away.



Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duke of Richelieu

Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duke of Richelieu


Saint Radegonde Chapel

Saint Radegonde Chapel

The Cardinal of Richelieu's ancestral domains, where there is still a lovely park and gardens, are in the town of Richelieu only a few kilometers away.

In Church history, St. Martin, St. Radegonde, St. Hilary and St. Florent are all of the region, and many ancient crypts, cathedrals, cloisters and chapels can be seen in every town, some dating from the 9th century.

Grand Master Jacques de Molay

Grand Master Jacques de Molay


The last Knights Templar, including the Grand Master Jacques de Molay, were imprisoned in Chinon Castle before being burned at the stake at the behest of King Philip le Bel in 1314. Graffitti from the knights' long imprisonment has been preserved on the dungeon walls and is still visible.


There are even a few Dolmens (large stone edifices) from pre-Roman times dotting the landscape.


In the nearby town of Saumur there are gallo-roman ruins and a recently uncovered odeon - as well as the Cadre Noir, the premier training grounds for a specialized form of equestrian display.


Cadre Noir, the National Equitation School

Cadre Noir, the National Equitation School