05 June 2014

Le Château de Maintenon

We had lunch at Maintenon, north of Chartres, and we also wanted to see the château there. As it stands today, it was built in the first half of the 1500s, during the reigns of French kings Louis XII, François Ier, and Henri II, with later additions.

As usual, an older château-fort had stood on the same site as early as the 7th century. Renaissance architects and builders turned it into a château de plaisance — a stately residence. It's most famous resident took title to the place in the mid-1700s. She was Françoise d'Aubigné, widow of a noted poet of the time, and she came to be known as Madame de Maintenon.

 Construction of the aqueduct in the background was never completed.

She was married in secret to the Sun King, Louis XIV in 1683, when the queen, Marie-Thérèse d'Autriche, died. Madame de Maintenon had been born in prison — her father was imprisoned as a debtor — nearly 50 years earlier, the granddaughter of another famous poet of the late Renaissance.

Madame de Maintenon was a devout Catholic, and they say she was instrumental in persuading Louis XIV to revoke the Edict of Nantes, which allowed Protestants to practice their religion. She died in 1719, outliving Louis XIV by four years.


  1. I don't think I have ever seen pictures of this castle. It is really pretty!

  2. I love the picture of the footbridge with the aqueduct in the background. An image of early summer - it all goes together so beautifully. And there are some quite big trees up there! P.

  3. Madame de Maintenon was obviously one of the "Now" people...
    it is the effect of planting these seventy tomatoes!!

  4. There was an excellent and fascinating TV programme here about Louis XIV recently and much was said about Mme Maintenon and her influence on the king. It's nice to hear a little mire about her background.
    That's a beautiful château. We keep meaning to stop in the area and explore some more when we are en route to Le Grand-Pressigny, but each time we're just desperate to get chez nous and hurtle past this part of France on the motorways. One day !!

    1. Maintenon and Chartres would make a nice stop on the way from Calais to Le Grand-Pressigny. There are good restaurants in Chartres too. Hope you get internet access going again soon after Saturday.

  5. Oh, Ken, I always love your history tidbits. I've only ever heard the name, "Madame de Maintenon", but never actually knew the history related. Of course, I'd never seen this château, either. Thanks for sharing it with us :)

  6. This is truly a beautiful chateau. Madame de Maintenon did not sound very tolerant, though! Thanks for the great story and photos.


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