Coming into Montrésor from Loches (from the west, you wind through the village on a very narrow street, with the view you see in the photo below. This is one of the most impressive château views in the whole Loire Valley, I think. I remember the first time Walt and I saw it, in June 2000, more than 12 years ago, on our way from Loches to Sancerre.
Le château de Montrésor, between Saint-Aignan and Loches
Meanwhile, on the other side of the little Indrois river, you get views like the one below, which shows the Renaissance château on the left and the ruins of the 1000-year-old medieval château-fort on the right. It's easy to see how the high ground the old fortress was built on was easy to defend against invaders, who included the Engish king Henry II Plantagenêt and the French king Philippe Auguste in the 12th century, for example.
The "newer" and the older buildings on the high ground at Montrésor
The Renaissance château, nearly 600 years old now, didn't ever need defending, except maybe against the French revolutionaries a couple of centuries ago. It was a residence or logis, built thanks to the wealth of a man — Imbert de Batarnay — who was trusted advisor and chamberlain to several French kings — among others, Louis XII of Blois (a moderate reformer known in his time as le père du peuple) and François Ier (a popular figure who reigned over the French Renaissance and oversaw the building of the château at Chambord). Batarnay was the grandfather of Diane de Poitiers, French king Henri II's mistress — the woman who spent years enjoying life a few miles north in the famous Château de Chenonceau.
Looking west up the little street between the château and the river
By the time Batarnay became the lord of Montrésor, in 1493, the medieval fortress had outlived its usefulness. And later, during the French Revolution in the 1790s, the Renaissance residence built by Batarnay was set on fire. The west wing of the logis and the chapel were subsequently torn down. Later, a Polish count, fleeing a Russian invasion of his country, emigrated to France and in 1849 acquired the château de Montrésor and restored it. His descendants still own it today.
Fortifications were first built at Montrésor by Foulques Nerra of Anjou
in the 11th century and later by Henry Plantagenêt.
Don't get the impression that Montrésor is a big town. Fewer than 400 people live on the town's 2½ acres of land. By comparison, nearby Saint-Aignan's population is about 3,500, and Loche's is about 6,500. The plus beaux villages de France prize is awarded only to villages with populations under 2,000, and Montrésor is one of them.