06 October 2012

Montrésor street views

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.


  1. So no excitement that we know of in the Wars of Religion then? I haven't seen any account of those times in Montrésor, so maybe it managed to slip through quietly. I know Loches and Preuilly were both captured by the Protestants, so it seems unlikely that Montrésor was not also targetted.

  2. I was about to tell you that that kind of information was not my département, but yours (ha ha ha), but then I saw this book that might be of interest:

    MONTRÉSOR et ses environs.
    De l’Indre à l’Indrois
    (par l’abbé L.-A. Bosseboeuf)

  3. A good historic lesson thank you ! May I suggest you to go to Piégut in the Limousin ( a little bit far for you) it is where King Richard was killed . There is only a little tower now

  4. I enjoyed the photos and the history of the town, merci bien!

  5. Oh boy, anything about Loches, Foulques Nerra, Richard I, Henry II, and my eyes pop! I always enjoy your historic posts :)

    Last night, we watched a made-for-TV French movie on TV5, Louis XI, le pouvoir fracassé. Very good for me-- I feel more informed now about the succession of power starting with him and going to the next three kings. I always remember Louis XI as being king during the events of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but this is the first I've seen more about him. It put a smile on my face when several town or areas were mentioned throughout the film, that I have heard of mostly because of you. He mentioned loving living in La Touraine, for one :))


  6. Ken: LOL -- very good. I'll check out the library and see if they've got the book -- many thanks for the link.

  7. Just like Fort Lauderdale....hahaha!


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?