19 June 2009

Le Château de Meillant

The château at Meillant is not a Loire Valley castle. It's located in the old Berry province, not the Loire Valley. Meillant in the Cher River Valley about 150 km/90 miles upstream from Saint-Aignan.

The château was built in the early 1300s and in 1453 was acquired by Pierre of Amboise, a nobleman who was the lord of Chaumont-sur-Loire, near Blois. The original building was fortified, as medieval castles tended to be. Pierre's son Charles 1er d'Amboise, who was at one time the governor of the Paris region, Champagne, and Burgundy, set out to renovate and "modernize" the Meillant château, but he died at the age of 51, before the work could be done. It was his son, Charles II d'Amboise, who finished the job in the late 1400s and early 1500s.

The southwest façade at Meillant is medieval

Meillant shows two faces to the visitor. The southwest front is medieval, with massive towers facing a moat. The northeast façade is highly ornate, showing its architectural kinship with the Renaissance châteaux of the Loire Valley.

Figures on a balcony

The style is late gothic, called "flowery" gothic. Charles II spent time in Italy, where he was the governor of Milan. So it has been said that "Milan made Meillant," in the sense that Charles II brought back from Italy the ideas for the renovations he ordered at the old castle.

The château de Meillant was also completely restored much later, in 1842.

The Tower of the Lion at Meillant

The main tower, highly ornamented, is called the Tower of the Lion, because there is a big lion made of gilded lead at its very top. The lion is the work of the Italian Giocondo, who worked with Michelangelo.

Giocondo's lion at the top of the tower at Meillant
(thanks to CHM for the photo)

CHM and I spent about an hour walking around the château and taking pictures Thursday morning. I just counted my pictures, and it turns out that I took 87 of them. I can't post them all, at least not today! But here's a selection, mostly of details of the decorations on the walls of the château.

Architectural ornament at Meillant

It's either feast or famine with photos and blog topics. Some days I think I need to get out more and do more photography. Or at least take pictures of more varied subjects. And then, at times like the present, I'm overwhelmed with subjects and pictures.

7 comments:

  1. Fab photographs and BLUE SKY!

    You must have had a smashing visit,

    GG

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  2. You can never post too many photos, Ken! I second GG's comment about the blue sky and I'm noticing NO people in your photos. Is it because this is an off the beaten tourist track chateau or were you just lucky?

    Looking forward to many more photos of your trip.

    BettyAnn

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  3. I've loved these posts about the Berry! I'm having fun imagining you and CHM tooling around and enjoying yourselves in these interesting and historic places. Thanks for sharing!
    Judy

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  4. I'm glad you and CHM are out and about which means we get excellent photos of lions, castles and long sunny days.

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  5. Love the two faces of the chateau--very interesting--and the "flowery gothic," especially of the lion tower. Thanks for describing and showing it so well (and to CHM, too, for the lion photo).

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  6. can you tour the inside?

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  7. Dale, you can tour the inside but we didn't, for various reasons. I don't know how interesting the interiors are. And yes, BettyAnn, there were almost no other people there (we saw exactly two others). I think that was because it was a weekday in June rather than in July or August, and not a weekend day.

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