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Abbey of Mont Saint Michel
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Castle Aze-le-Rideau

I can not say that I am a fan of palace type locks. I prefer coarse, weathered stones of German fortresses, covered with wet moss, which keep the memory of the sound of swords, cannon volleys and long sieges. Therefore, when drawing up a route in France, I have long looked at everything I could find in guidebooks and the Internet using the phrase “Loire castles” for a long time and not without a certain amount of skepticism. The result was a radical change in my attitude to these castles and four items on our vacation menu.

And I first chose a small Chateau d’Aze-le-Rideau.
This castle is by tourist trample somewhere in the middle of the entire list. Not Versailles, but not “dogs come to rest.”

What else attracted me to him was the absence of particularly high-profile names in the list of owners, a long and strange fate and a magnificent appearance with turrets, their slate conical roofs, reflection in quiet water and a wonderful park around.

I’ll start with practical information for independent travelers.

Visits to the castle are possible all year round, you can join the group with a guide, or you can go by yourself in a free mode with an audio guide. Current prices and opening hours can be found on this site. Audio guide highly recommend! Very interesting!

Even in the Russian-language Internet there are written about-oh-a lot of beautiful reports and stories about this castle. But I want to offer you a look at it with my eyes. I will not take money for renting eyes, I promise 🙂 And I will not tell you everything thoroughly from the history of the castle, but I will definitely mention some details that have touched me.

And I’ll start, perhaps, with the name.

The castle dates back to the 12th century. At that time it was really a fortress, performing a defensive and defensive function. The fortress passed from one owner to another many times. Its first owner is the knight Riedel (Rideau) d’Aze. Hence the name. According to rumors, a rare cruelty was a man, a great lover of blood and bloody reprisals. For which he was nicknamed “the fiend of hell” (“child of the devil” is also about him).

Later, Henry the Second Plantagenet conquered both this castle and all the property of the knight.

The castle then went to King Philip Augustus, who returned it to the son of the first owner for loyalty and devotion.

Later, at the beginning of the 15th century, the duke of Burgundy was the owner of the castle. And it was necessary that such a thing happened that the garrison who had come here to the dauphin Charles VII not only did not let him into the castle, but also, according to some testimony, upset him with impossibility by dirty insults. For which both the castle and the village of Aze were destroyed and burned to the ground, and several hundred people were killed.

The castle stood in ruins for a hundred years until 1510 (and according to some sources, until 1518), when the royal treasurer and mayor of the Tour, Monsieur Bertlo, decided to rebuild here an elegant castle for his wife, who owned these lands at that time. It was a time when the trends of the Italian Renaissance were very strong in France, so the castle was built very airy, richly decorated, complex shape. The castle stands on stilts hammered into a small island in the middle of the River Indre, and the snow-white stone blocks for its walls were brought here along the river in boats.

The bend of the river was very skillfully used, so that the walls that seemed to grow straight out of the water with elegant turrets looked very impressive. But the treasurer and his wife were not destined to complete the castle. With a cunning combination of accusations of treason, embezzlement and high treason, as well as prosecution for tax evasion, King Francis I ultimately forced Monsieur Bertlo’s widow to sell (and according to other information, confiscated) the castle, which he transferred to the captain his guard.

Over the next decades, the castle was not claimed, dilapidated, declined. Until the beginning of the XIX century, he did not pass, finally, into the possession of the Marquis Bienkour, who conducted a large-scale reconstruction, reviving and rebuilding the castle.

The engravings, – we brought the postcards with their reproductions, – very well show how the castle was and how it was rebuilt at that time.

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