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She was Queen of France and then Queen of England.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the richest and most powerful women ever.
Lovely meal this evening in the Restaurant At’Table in Chinon
but the highlight of the day was the visit to the magnificent Abbey Fontevraud,
described as the largest and most extraordinary in France. History is writ
large here in this early 12th century building that was run for nearly
700 years by aristocratic abbesses.
It contains the remains of one of the most remarkable women
ever, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her effigy lies next to that of her second husband Henry
Plantagenet, the King of England, and their son Richard the Lionheart. Eleanor
had before that been married to Louis VII and that made her Queen of France.
The story is quite complicated and she endured imprisonment by Henry before being
released by son Richard and then going on to live until into her 80s before
dying at Fontevraud.
The abbey's cloisters
After the French revolution, the Abbey was turned into a
prison and was used as such until 1963 upon which repair and restoration began.
Today, it is a hive of activity both inside and out and is a fantastic visit,
not least because some of the areas are used to mount large scale art works and
installations. Plans for the future include using part of it as a luxury hotel.
The abbey's chapterhouse
We had our first stroll around Chinon this morning and very
impressed with the statue to another amazing French woman, Joan of Arc, who is
remembered here by a monumental statue of her on horseback with a bunch of enemies
Chinon though is dominated by its chateau. We didn’t visit
it but looked at it from down in the town and from a great viewpoint across the
river, the Vienne.
After a busy day, we visited the At’Table for dinner and went
for the three course menu for 22.90, really good value. The only bum note was a
glass of red Chinon house wine, served very cold and probably poor enough in
any case. The white, on the other hand, was excellent.
The fish dish
Good choices for all courses and CL’s starter was a
delightful Carpaccio of Melon, sorbet red port and condiments while I absolutely
enjoyed my river fish terrine with a lime mousseline. Mains too were top notch,
her Parmentier of Duck Confit with orange sauce superb and my Omlet-Chevalier (a
sea fish, I’m told) with courgette crumble and red pepper emulsion. Very enjoyable
outdoor meal at a very busy venue.