The Château of Azay-le-Rideau was built between 1528 and 1527 on the site of the mediaeval castle of Ridel d’Azay, a knight in the King’s service. The fortress was built to protect the road from Tours to Chinon. This original building was burned down in 1418 during the Hundred Years’ War. It was Gilles Berthelot, Treasurer-General to the King, who acquired the site in 1518 and began building the current Château. The property changed hands over the years until 1905 when it was acquired by the State and is now a National Monument.
The Château is on an island in the Indre River, which was diverted to create a moat around the building.
Inside the Chateau it was cool, and there are many beautiful details. The most striking feature is the Grand Central Staircase, the Escalier d’Honneur.
The construction of the roof is amazing.
On the final day of Travel in France we travelled from Issoudun to Ouistreham, with visits to the Chateaux of Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau along the way. The overnight ferry returned us to the UK. Continue reading
Issoudun has a long history, with evidence of settlement since at least 2000 BC. By the Middle Ages it was the second largest town in the Berry and one of the stages on the Pilgrim Route from Vézelay to Santiago. It was the end of a long day and the light was fading, but I did my best!
The Church of St Cyr was started in the 15C and completed in the 19C
The Belfry used to be the main entrance into the fortress and still lead into the old, fortified part of the town. In WWI the tower was used as a prison. In the 12C Issoudun was on the borders of English Plantagenet territory and the Kingdom of France and often under attack. The Tour Blanche is a donjon from the 12C, built by Richard the Lionheart.
The Hotel de Ville opposite La Tour Blanche dates from 1731, with a modern addition and an installation of mirrors.
Day 25 of Travel in France and we began the long drive north.
Our route was over the Causse de Larzac, the Millau Bridge, and up the motorway. There were several traffic jams, and we diverted briefly along the Lot for a coffee stop. But it was a long drive and it was good to finally reach Issoudun.
The Chateau of Villandry was completed in 1536, the last of the great castles built in the Loire Valley. The chateau was owned by Jean le Breton, the Finance Minister for François I. In 1906 the chateau was bought by Joachim Carvallo who was responsible for the restoration of the buildings and particularly the Renaissance gardens. The chateau remains in family ownership. Continue reading
The Vidourle rises in the hills around St Roman de Codières and flows into the sea near Le Grau du Roi. The river flows underground at times, and is prone to violent floods, vidourlades, after heavy rain, particularly in the autumn. It is c.85k in length.
The river near St Hippo in 2008, and then three days later at the same spot.
At Sauve part of the river flows under the town, bursting out from a hole to join the main river at a Mill. In 2008 it was in full flow for a few days, but usually there is just a ‘hole’. Sauve is a remarkable town, with a very ancient history.
Quissac is situated at the crossing of two important roads – Nîmes to the Larzac, and Montpellier to Alés – and the name is Roman in origin, Quintiacum or the domaine of Quintius. The town is badly affected by a Vidourlade.
You may be interested in
Sommieres in 2002, photograph from here
The Vidourle under Sauve, 2010, caught on YouTube
The Vidourle at Marsillargues, 2009, YouTube
The Vidourle and Vidourlades, book with fascinating photographs of Sommieres
The Vidourlade of 30 October 2010
A vidourlade in Quissac
In the Cevennes we stayed in a comfortable gîte in the hamlet of Le Pouget, just four miles outside St Hippolyte du Fort.
The setting is wonderful, overlooking the valley of the Vidourle, and even on the occasional misty day it is beautiful, quiet, peaceful.
Evenings at the gîte can be magical.
It is easy to imagine that time has stood still here.
To hire La Calade contact
Béatrice Quénet : 04 66 77 29 06