The medieval town of Chinon is located in the heart of the Val de Loire
resting by the banks of the majestic
river. It is a town steeped in
history and rich with
the ancient château was the preferred residence of Henry II,
one of the English Plantagenet kings, and his wife
d'Aquitaine. Henry II died here in 1189 and their
son, Richard The
Lionheart was born here. Henry
is interred at the side of Aliénor
at the beautiful abbey of Fontevraud,
a few kilometres to the west of Chinon,
near Saumur and the confluence of the River
Vienne with the
In 1429 the
teenage Joan of Arc came to Chinon
to meet the Dauphin Charles VII, who was holed up after
losing most of his kingdom. Joan succeeded in inspiring
Charles to reclaim his kingdom, after which
Chinon became his capital and
enjoyed a century of prosperity. The Joan of Arc Museum,
with its multi
language, video presentation is worth a visit.
In Chinon the winding streets
up to the castle are lined with small
shops, inns, and
cafes. The cobbles and timber houses dating back to the fifteenth
century give you a feel of its history .
Along the streets below the castle walls are Troglodyte dwellings,
some occupied and many
used by wine merchants
for the sale of wine. It is a town well worth a visit to browse the many
shops or to lunch at one of its fine restaurants.
Chinon is one of the better known wine growing towns of the
to its caves and invites them to taste some of its fine wines. Its red wine
along with that of the nearby
is highly rated.
By the 16th century Chinon
was no longer in favour with French Royals and in 1631 It became part of
the Duke of Richelieu's estate, entering into a period of decline.
Richelieu had the chateau razed as he did not want anything
competing with his splendid abode,(such an ego!) and the plundered
stone was used to help build the town of Richelieu.
Apart from the townhouses and
convents that were built, the city changed little up to the Revolution
when religious buildings fell into neglect. The fortifications were
pulled down in the 1820s and the banks of the Vienne were developed to
open the city up to the outside.
The historic town of Chinon was registered as a
preservation area in 1968 and since then has been undergoing
restoration work in order to respect
and preserve its historic and architectural identity. You can easily
walk through the town in a day and discover some pleasant surprises on
your own or take the guided tour arranged through the Tourist Office.
The Chateau de
Chinon is open daily throughout the year,
hours 9-6 in April-June and Sept., 9-7 in July-Aug., 9-5 in Oct., and
9-12 and 2-5 in Nov.-March.
There is a monthly antique market
in the town on the third Sunday of the month.