Thursday, April 20, 2017

March Wanderings - Chateau de Montsoreau

Leaving Souzay-Champigny and Parnay and continuing upriver I reached a castle I have wanted to see since I was a child, one of the less well known, but so striking, with its shear walls and slender towers hovering over the waters of the river. The Chateau de Montsoreau is, in fact, the only castle along the Loire River that actually rests its feet in the water ...
Or did...
Once (upon a time) it came right to the water's edge, with a moat wrapping around behind it, so that the river flowed all around its base. This was back in the 10th century. Five hundred years later, on the foundations of this old fortress, a new castle rose up, clothed in the latest early Renaissance fashion. This was Montsoreau at its peak. For 350 years it shimmered, fairy tale-like, above the rippling waters of the river.
But after the Revolution the castle lost its inhabitants and with no one to care for it, slowly fell into ruin, birds nesting among its rafters and its roofs eventually caving in. Eventually a road was built along the river and on the river side of the castle the area was filled, with the road separating the castle from the water in which it had reflected itself for centuries.
Just before the start of World War One, the local citizens lobbied the local government to buy up the ruins, which it did. Then between the 2 world wars much of the castle was rebuilt and restored.
Having lost all its interior decoration and furnishing, the local government decided to keep it in a bare interior state and now uses it for exhibits of modern art.

19th century graffiti from when the castle was in ruins

From the roof of the castle is a very special view, the confluence of the rivers Vienne and Loire.

My next stop, where the 2 rivers meet, is the village of Candes-Saint-Martin.

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