Let’s start with the medieval period and the visit of the inescapable Fortress of Chinon. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Royal Fortress of Chinon is unique in Touraine. It is one of the few medieval castles in the Loire Valley. Its history is associated with famous people: Henry II Plantagenet, Jacques de Molay, Charles VII, Joan of Arc, Prosper Mérimée. A fun visit is possible thanks to the Histopad! A real immersive tool, it takes you back to the world of the Middle Ages with a reconstruction of buildings that have now disappeared.
Let’s stay in the medieval period with the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. Would you like to combine French history and religious art? Further south but still from the hotel Le Bussy, take at least half a day to visit the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. It is one of the largest monastic cities inherited from the Middle Ages. Classified as a Historic Monument in 1840, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, along with the entire Loire Valley.
A bit of history… The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud was founded in 1101. It was envisaged as an “ideal city”, a place of exaltation of faith dedicated to prayer and work, in abstinence, silence and poverty. The Order of Fontevraud quickly spread over a vast territory, from England to Spain. From 1189, Fontevraud became a royal necropolis, housing the tombs of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart. Over the course of 7 centuries, 36 abbesses, often of high nobility and sometimes of royal blood, succeeded one another at the head of the Abbey. In 1792, following the Revolution, the last abbess of Fontevraud was expelled. Twelve years later, the Abbey was transformed into a central prison by Napoleonic decree. Fontevraud, which housed up to 2,000 prisoners, was considered one of the toughest prisons in France. During the Second World War, several resistance fighters were imprisoned and then deported. Ten were shot on the spot… In 1963, the prison was closed and the restoration of the buildings began on a large scale. In 1975, the Royal Abbey opened to the public, thus putting an end to nine centuries of life behind closed doors and opening the way to this “ideal city”.