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Ville Chinon - Accueil AAA

A Heritage to discover

The Royal Fortress

La Forteresse Royale de Chinon

Standing on top of a rocky spur above the Vienne River, the royal fortress extends over 500 meters from west to east. The castle as it appears nowadays is the result of successive additions and improvements between the 10th and 15th centuries.

The fortress benefitted of years of restoration work, on a scale unprecedented in Europe, in order to bring back the military splendor and cohesiveness it enjoyed in bygone days.

Visitors are welcomed to enjoy dramatized, interactive tours as well as temporary, yearly exhibitions.

Open daily all year round
Closed on 1 January and 25 December 
January – February and November - December : 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
March - April and September - October : 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m
1st May - 31st August : 9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Contact :
Telephone : 02 47 93 13 45
website : www.forteresse-chinon


Carroi-Museum of Ard and History

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Saint Mexme Collegiate Church

Saint Mexme was the main religious building in Chinon up to the Revolution. Its oldest features – the central nave and western front, flanked by towers - date back to year 1000.
In the twelfth century, the development of pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Mexme spurs the expansion of the building by addition of a transept and choir with ambulatory and radiating chapels.

Abandoned during the Revolution, the church partially collapses in 1817. The choir, transept and part of the nave are demolished; the rest of the building hosts a school until the early 1980s.
Major restoration and rehabilitation works have been undertaken from that date and are still ongoing.


The former collegiate is now a cultural center. The nave was designed into a small timber theatre mainly used during the summer; the western front, that still shelters preserved medieval settings (paints and sculptures) was embellished with stained-glass windows based on drawings by Olivier Debré.

The Collegiate is opened every afternoon from May, 1st to the end of September (upon reservation for groups).

Initiates file downloadSaint Mexme Collegiate Church





Sainte Radegonde Chapel

A former pagan place of worship, the chapel was installed in the middle-ages near the tomb of Jean de Chinon, a hermit who had received Radegonde, a queen and Saint.
The Chapel is still a place of worship and pilgrimage.











It is decorated with wall-paintings including one of a “royal hunt” dating back to the late 12th century that features members of the Plantagenet family.

The Chapel is opened every afternoon from May, 1st to the end of September (upon reservation for groups).









The Churches in Chinon

Saint Etienne Church

Though a church was recorded on that spot back in the 11th century, the present building is a reconstruction dating back to the 15th century in the high gothic style. The high windows in the choir are ornated with late 19th century stained-glass panels in local religious scenes.








Saint Maurice Church

The only church in the fortified town, Saint Maurice was rebuilt from the 12th century and extended until the 16th century. The central nave and choir are covered by typical Anjou ogives and the more recent aisles by vaults and complex ribs falling on Renaissance capitals.












Half-Timbered Houses

Mostly visible along the city’s main medieval thorough-fares (nowadays rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau and rue Voltaire), the half-timbered houses are a major heritage feature in Chinon. The city was mostly spared from major fires - a common occurrence in the middle age - that destroyed medieval houses in other urban centers, therefore some of Chinon’s half-timbered houses date back to the 14th century. The largest still stand at the former main cross-roads. In the core of the old city, the Carroi - the meeting point of the “high road” (rue Joan of Arc) that led to the Castle and the carroi road that led to the bridge – still boasts the Red House (a former trade stand), the Blue House with its slate facade, and the “Maison des Engoulants” with wolves ornaments.
At the Puits des Bans crossroads stand two half-timbered houses with lozenge motifs, one of them with noticeable corbelling.
















Private mansions and town houses























From the Middle Ages on, nobles and royal officials build large stone houses at the foot of the fortress. 15th century mansions are singular by their L-shaped plan around a courtyard opening onto the street, their spiral staircase housed in a turret protruding at the corner of buildings. Outstanding examples can be seen rue du Docteur Gendron, rue du Grenier à sel and place Saint-Maurice.



























During the 16th century, medieval mansions are remodeled to fit the Renaissance taste: the stairs are included within the buildings, while corbelled turrets appear on facades. Window frames and dormers are adorned with pilasters and pediments. The most prominent examples of such mansions are visible on the western part of the “high road”, rue Voltaire or Rue Haute Saint-Maurice: Water and Forestry Commandment house, Bodard de la Jacopière mansion, Poirier de Beauvais mansion ...

























In the 17th and 18th centuries, town houses boast larger windows, wrought iron balconies, and large stairs of honor, as seen on the Governor’s residence and Torterue de Langardière mansion.






















In the 19th century, town houses appear on the newly-built quays, with beautiful neo-classical buildings and mansions as seen Quai Charles VII, or for more picturesque examples, on Quai Jeanne d’Arc.





Canon Neighborhood

East of the city center, a specialized area develops around St. Mexme Collegiate Chruch. A Collegiate is a church served by canons, a religious body required to common prayer, like the monks, but who live in detached houses close to the mother church. Outstanding examples of canons’s housing still exist around Saint Mexme square and in neighboring streets, rue Diderot, Hoche and rue Buffon. These tastefully decorated stone houses with gardens looming behind stone walls contribute to the charm of the neighborhood.






Open-air museum: Statues

In the 19th century, public spaces are adorned with trees, fountains and statues celebrating the great figures in the history of Chinon.

Rabelais

In 1878, a national subscription is initiated and collects the funds needed for the erection of a bronze statue of Rabelais, unveiled in 1882. The chosen spot for the statue is the town main access, at the mouth of the new street that leads to the city Hall (Place de Gaulle). Sculptor Emile Hébert portrayed Rabelais sitting down in his physician attire, yet holding a pen. The reliefs engraved in the pillar remind his many interests: facing east, an ongoing dissection refers to his medical degree, while the west, portrays Gargantua and his cohorts; facing north and the square, the title of the statue is framed with reminders of his contributions to Humanism.





Joan of Arc

August 12th and 13th, 1893, celebrated the inauguration of Joan of Arc ‘s statue on the square that now bears her name. Jules Roulleau’s model had been presented in plaster during the 1892 Salon; the bronze statue in its current form was made by Thiebaut in Paris. Its trip  to Chinon was not an easy feat: the "wide load" cart moved by Percheron horses could not pass on most bridges, and in places required removal of telegraph poles.

The statue of Chinon is outstanding for its monumentality and energy:  Joan, a floating banner in hand, her sword held high, rides her leaping horse over a wooden fence, trampling fallen enemies. This warlike representation did not agree with all;  other more religious statues representing Joan of Arc can be seen  in the churches of Chinon : in Saint-Etienne (by sculptor François Sicard) and in St. -Maurice by Jules Déchin.

The Sacred Heart of Chinon

This statue perched on the heights of Chinon is the result of a vow made in Saint-Etienne in April 1940 by Archpriest Vivien, who wished to appeal on divine protection during the war. The conduct of the task was difficult but the inauguration was made in 1943.

The style of the statue seeks a simplification of forms, a stylization that owes as much to the aesthetics of the 1930s as to the chosen material: projected cement on a metal frame. Sculptor Paule Richon shaped the concrete on site. She did not attempt to strictly respect human proportions, but purposely focused on the arms and hands, to reflect the idea of protection as requested by the sponsor. Any likeness with the Christ in Rio is not entirely coincidental: Archpriest Vivien had a photograph of the Corcovado statue, which influenced the project ...

 

For more information

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