Don’t you just love French Chateau, especially if they are involved in winemaking too! Externally preserved quite wonderfully because Oliver Cromwell and his cannons had no cause to cross the water, but often bereft internally, stripped of all furnishings. A marvellous exterior is let down by a soulless interior.
We visited the small town of Montreuil-Bellay with its fantastic chateau on one of our “rest days” from wine tasting, a chance for my palate to recuperate from the battering it had taken over the first three days of our Loire holiday. We had no intention of going inside because this Chateau only permitted guided visits ….. and in French, no self guided/wandering visits! Still worth a trip though, only 5 miles away from our hotel at Fontevraud. Here’s a little background on the place.
“The town of Montreuil-Bellay retains almost all of its medieval walls, making it one of the last fortified towns of the Anjou region. It is well worth a visit as it still retains its medieval feel. Its strategic location on the borders of Anjou, Touraine and Poitou allowed the town to grow and have an important regional administrative function (subsequently transferred to Saumur) before the French Revolution, this accounts for the number of fine houses in the town”.
“During the French Revolution the castle was seized by the revolutionary government and used as a prison for women suspected of being royalists. In 1860 the daughter of Saumur businessman Adrien Niveleau, (who had bought it in 1822) undertook occupancy and set about a major restoration campaign, redoing some of the rooms in the Troubadour style. Descendants of her husband’s nephew are the current owners of the property.”
“Château Montreuil-Bellay is also the name of fine wines of the area produced from vines within the chateau grounds. The grapes, apparently harvested and sorted by hand, are made into wine in the fifteenth-century wine cellars.”
We didn’t have a tasting here (honest!) and drove off to our next cultural experience, passing this rather strange sight en route through some woods!