Month: July 2015

Le Logis Royale

Also commonly known as “le chateau”. The original chateau apparently dates back to the 4th century, as it is mentioned in some writings from that time. It has been through a couple of additions and reinventions, but is mostly known for being the home of Agnès Sorel, famous first royal mistress to King Charles VII. The tower on the far left of the photo above is Le Tour d’Agnès Sorel, where her tomb was kept until 1970, when it was moved to the nearby Église de Saint-Ours (a photo of her tomb is shown in this post). The room pictured below, which doubled in size as part of the enlargement of the chateau in the 15th century, is famous for being the very room where, in 1429, Jeanne d’Arc convinced Charles VII to go to Reims and be crowned as king. History sometimes blows me away. I find it somewhat mind-boggling to think of what went on in this room, this town, this country (keeping in mind that where I grew up, 100 years is considered “old”). We toured the Logis Royale …

Le Donjon

Last weekend we visited le Donjon and le Logis Royale – we’ve wandered through the Cité Royale a fair bit, but we hadn’t yet had the chance to go inside. The Donjon in Loches was built between in stages from the 11th to 15th centuries, and is the tallest and most intact dungeon remaining in Europe. It’s a pretty impressive structure – there are many winding staircases, up to tallest tower and down down down to the depths of the tunnels beneath the Martelet. There are so many little hallways leading off to cells, rooms, and more staircases. To put it simply, it’s an amazing place, and mind-blowing to think of what went on inside. In the tower, we visited the torture chamber (I couldn’t quite bring myself to take pics of the shackles…), the “Salle de Graffiti” which is covered in carvings on the walls dating back many hundreds of years, multiple cells, rooms, and the rooftop terrace. The doors in the dungeon were pretty interesting to me – the thickness of the wood, the many different iron bars, handles, and locks. We then …

Around Town

Around Town, Volume II. I’ll probably wind up with a bunch of these “around town” posts, as I just can’t stop myself taking pictures every time we head out for a walk! We like to wander around the Cité Royale and marvel at the ancient-ness of it all – it is simply beautiful, and we are happy that it’s literally right at our doorstep. Here are a few snaps from our recent wanderings. Yesterday we finally toured through the inside of the Donjon and the Logis Royale — so full of history and really incredible to behold. More to come later on those visits!

14 Juillet

Just a week after we arrived, we celebrated la Fête Nationale here in Loches. France’s national holiday (known as Bastille Day around the rest of the world) also happens to be Derek’s birthday, so we celebrated his 40th (!!!) with fireworks in town. We knew that each town had it’s own little celebration, but we really didn’t have any idea of the scope of the festivities. Keep in mind that Loches has a population of only about 6000 people. We were pretty impressed by the spectacle! There was an evening concert, followed by La Retraite aux Flambeaux, which is basically a parade of torches for the children and adults who wished to take part. We all gathered in the Jardins Publiques, and as darkness began to fall, lanterns were distributed to all the kids – yes, with real candles, unheard of in Canada! – as well as large torches for the adults. It stays light out fairly late here, so la Retraite des Flambeaux didn’t start til around 10:30, and we paraded along with the marching band to …

Around Town

I just thought i’d share a few images i’ve shot around town lately. The image above was taken while we visited our landlady’s brother at his home just outside of town. He and his wife live on a (former) farm where there used to be an abbey, built many hundreds of years ago. Their home is a beautiful stone structure with soaring ceilings, coved doorways with old wooden doors with iron hinges, gorgeous limestone walls and floors. It is just dreamy. This would have been an outbuilding which housed the sheep when it was a functioning farm. Pretty awesome! They’re converting it to rooms with plumbed bathroom and kitchenette right now, I would totally move in. The grounds are lush and full of beautiful gardens. These flowers below are commonly called “witch’s fingers”, they are gorgeous and brilliantly orangey-coral. Love them. The hills surrounding the home are sweeping and golden, covered in wheat fields and surrounded by groves of trees. What a perfect perch for the swimming pool where we spent a delightful afternoon in the …

Equestrian Afternoon

or, “when our afternoon in Loches felt more like we were living on the set of Downton Abbey”. Today we took in a horse-and-carriage competition held by l’Association Française d’Attelage in Beaulieu-les-Loches (the next town over, literally across the canal). Yesterday we caught a bit of the presentation of the entrants, where each participant was judged on the hitch, carriage, and dress of the horse. The carriages are pretty cool, many are early 20th century carriages, some even from late 19th century. The horses are of course beautifully raised and kept animals. I love the way the drivers and passengers are dressed, all very traditional and coordinated with their carriages and horses. It was all pretty out of our normal realm of entertainment, and the kids were semi-interested for a little while, then they pretty much just played around on the grass while we watched a few more horses maneuver through the cones and gates. All in all, it was a funny way to spend the afternoon. Certainly we are realizing that this town may be …

Le Cité Royale

There is a lot of history in Loches. In the centre of town, the Cité Royale sprawls along the hilltop, comprising the 10th century dungeon, the chateau (Logis Royale) and a towering Catholic Church, l’Église de St Ours. All are surrounded by ancient ramparts, built over a thousand years ago, and it is all incredibly beautiful. The imposing dungeon is the largest that remains intact in Europe. The chateau is rather significant as the place where Jeanne d’Arc convinced Charles VII to go after the crown. Later, Charles gifted the Logis Royale to his mistress, Agnes Sorel. She was the first “recognized” royal mistress! She died young (age 28) after the birth of her 4th child with Charles VII, and she is enterred in the church here in Loches. I find it pretty crazy that Joan of Arc walked these same streets, under the same archways, and slept in the chateau that I see from our windows every single day. Wild! Here are some more pics of the Cité Royale. We wandered through there a …