Castle of the Loire Valley: ABBAYE DE FONTEVRAUD

Founded in 1101 by Robert d'Arbrissel and ruled over for centuries by the most powerful of abbesses, the Abbey of Fontevraud was, before the Revolution, the richest and most important monastery in France. During the 12th century, the abbey gained great prestige. It was favoured by the support of the Plantagenet family, Counts of Anjou and Kings of England. The Abbess was answerable only to the Pope in spiritual matters and the King in temporal affairs. Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart and Isabelle d'Angoulème (widow of John Lackland - King John) are buried at Fontevraud. Their recumbent statues, which rested on their tombs can still be seen today and show their influence on the Abbey dynasty. The Abbey church is as majestic as a cathedral and was edified at the beginning of the 12th century built on the foundation of a first church of more modest dimensions. Its Roman façade was renewed in 1504 in a more flamboyant style, but converted back to its original state in 1901 by the architect Lucien Magne.

Castle of the Loire Valley : CHINON

The castle of Chinon Dominating the river Vienne, the plate of Chinon finishes out of spur, almost to touch the river. This spur, strengthened as of the Romans, knows during ten centuries a confused and tragic history. Three Masters in the art of the fortifications especially left their print on the extremely current castle : two kings of England, Henri II and Richard Lion Heart, a king of France, Philippe Auguste. This is in 1205, after an eight month old siege, that this last removed the place to Plantagenêts. With Charles VII begins, for Chinon, a page of history. Charles VII is only the « roi de Bourges » when, in 1427, he installs his small court in Chinon. In 1429, Jeanne d'Arc distinguishes the true Charles VII dissimulated in the mob a courtier adorned his dress in the large room illuminated of 50 torches. Of this room, it still have the monumental cheminey. The King gives her weapons and soldiers and she leaves on April 20, 1429 to achieve her miraculous and tragic destiny.

Castle of the Loire Valley: USSÉ

Ussé is caracteristic of architecture between two worlds, the modern Middle Ages and renaissance times. Semi fortress, semi-castle of approvals. Built in XVe, XVIe et XVIIe centuries by Bueil et Epinay families the castle changes to a magnificent private pleasure castle. Antoine de Bueil, Seigneur d' Ussé en 1456 married in 1462 Jeanne de Valois, the daughter of Charles VII et d'Agnès Sorel. But he have to sell the castle to Jacques d'Espinay. Nowdays, he belongs to the marquis de Blacas, grandchildren of the founder of Egyptian muséum of the Louvre. The castle would have inspired Charles Perrault for « La Belle au bois dormant ».

Castle of the Loire Valley: AZAY LE RIDEAU

With the Middle Ages, the lords of Tours build a castle on an island in the medium of the Indre river to protect the passage from the road carrying out of Tours to Chinon. In 1119, the lord Ridel of Azay gives to the city his name of Azay le Rideau. With the end of XVth century, Martin Berthelot, « maître de la Chambre aux deniers » (a kind of Minister for Finance) of the king, buy the castle and bequeaths it to his son Gilles Berthelot who inherits this strengthened residence, little before the battle of Marignan (1515). Gilles Berthelot begins the modifications from the building by expressing his passion for the Italian Renaissance. He makes build two other homes with four turns which give to the old fortress her form in « L ». This building inaugurates the era residences of pleasure which combine the attractiveness of the French castles with the majesty of the Italian palates. The architectural plan evolves thus around a vast luminous court. The water, which insulates the building, then takes a dominating place in the harmony of the unit.

Castle of the Loire: VILLANDRY

The lands where an ancient fortress once stood were known as Colombier until the 17th century. Acquired in the early 16th century by Jean Le Breton, France's Controller-General for War under King Francis I, a new château was constructed around the original 14th-century keep where King Philip II of France once met Richard I of England to discuss peace.
The château remained in the Le Breton family for more than two centuries until it was acquired by the Marquis de Castellane wich changed the interior of the castle by adapting it to the standards of comfort of the 18th century.
During the French Revolution the property was confiscated and in the early 19th century Emperor Napoleon acquired it for his brother Joseph Bonaparte.
In 1906,Joachim Carvallo purchased the property and poured an enormous amount of time, money and devotion into repairing it and creating what many consider to be the most beautiful gardens anywhere. Its famous Renaissance gardens include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, and vegetable gardens. The gardens are laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges. In 1934, Château de Villandry was designated a Monument historique. Like all the other châteaux of the Loire Valley, it is a World Heritage Site.
Still owned by the Carvallo family, the Château de Villandry is open to the public and is one of the most visited châteaux in France.