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Friday, November 29, 2013

The Castle of Joan of Arc: Chinon Castle - Exploring the Castles of the River Loire Valley #6

The Fortress of Chinon in the River Loire Valley is a very interesting building to visit on your travel in France,
but is it a castle or a "chateau"?


What is a Chateau and what is a Castle?

The Castle of Chinon, in the River Loire Valley, along the river Vienne is not probably the famous and neither the most elegant chateau of the area.

If we use the word "chateau" not just as the translation for the English word "castle", but in the more specific meaning of the word, we may decide not to consider Chinon Castle a Chateau like the others of the river Loire Valley, or, better, we would consider Chinon a "Chateau" in both meanings of the word.

Wikipedia offers for the word "Chateau" the following meaning:

"The Chateau is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions".
and then also:
"The word château is also used for castles in French, so where clarification is needed, the term château fort is used to describe a castle, such as Château fort de Roquetaillade. Care should be taken when translating the word château into English. It is not used in the same way as "castle", and most châteaux are described in English as "palaces" or "country houses" rather than "castles". For example, the Château de Versailles..."
The beautiful walls of the castle. 
The Vienne River and the Castle of Chinon




What is so special about Chinon Castle?

Chinon is a castle, a chateau fort, a castle. It is still possessing the original medieval walls, the towers. It is not just a stunning residence as for example the Chateau d'Azay le Rideau. (click here to see the Chateau d'Azay le Rideau)

It is a building that still have an architecture made to protect more than to astonish the eyes of the visitor for its beauty and its elegant lines.
This said, with its grandness and its position above the town and the river Vienne, surrounded by beautiful French countryside, Chinon castle is absolutely astonishing for the eyes of the modern visitor and exactly because it is so different from the others chateaux of the river Loire Valley it is certainly worth a visit, and then Chinon Castle has also a special story to tell...

Three more views of the castle: the Main Gate, the old palace in ruin and the tower. 




Why Chinon Castle is the Castle of Joan of Arc?

Chinon Castle is strongly connected with the life of the French heroine and Saint Joan of Arc.

It was when Joan of Arc arrived at Chinon Castle that she claimed to hear heavenly voices that said that King Charles of France would grant her an army to relieve the siege of Orléans (the town of Orleans, in France, not far from Chinon was sieged by the English during the Hundred Years' War, later Joan of Arc relieved Orleans from the English siege and this was Joan of Arc's first major military victory and the first major French in the Hundred Years War)

During her staying at the castle Charles met with Joan of Arc two days after her arrival and then sent her to Poitiers so that she could be cross-examined to ensure she was telling the truth.

Joan returned to Chinon in April where Charles granted her supplies and sent her to join the army at Orléans, leading the French to an amazing victory.


An interesting exhibition in Chinon Castle studies the influence of Joan of Arc in the modern era.


Who is Joan of Arc?

Joan d'Arc is one of the most famous female heroes of all time, she is a Saint for the Catholic Church and a heroine for France, but why?

Joan of Arc born to a peasant family in north-east France.

Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War against the English.

She was eventually captured and given to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais for heterodoxy and was burned at the stake for heresy when she was only 19 years old, this make of her a national hero.



This post has been made thanks to the great help and support of Caroline and Gilles Lemerle from St Michel sur la Loire.

If I have to choose, what are the other castles of the River Loire Valley I should absolutely visit?

All the castles of the River Loire Valley, but time and money suggest you should make a choice.
We selected for you an itinerary, so to give you the widest sight and prospective about these beautiful chateaux, so unique and so different one with the others.

Here the links to the other castles we absolutely suggest you visit:

Exploring the Castles of the River Loire Valley #1 - The Castle of Nantes




What else should I visit in France?

Read our page Visit France for more posts and destinations.






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