Showing posts with label Joan of Arc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joan of Arc. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Joan of Arc and the Fortress of Chinon. Bourgueil Market.

Day 11

Joan of Arc and the Fortress of Chinon. 
Bourgueil Market.

Here in Chinon, where I am based, there is a remarkable fortress with a remarkable history. It includes the Plantagenets. Eleanor of Aquitaine was imprisoned here by her husband Henry II but the woman that dominates the story of the fortress even though she spent just a few days here is Joan of Arc, the teenager who put an end to the awful 100 Years War.
The town of Chinon (and the River Vienne) as seen from the fortress
In February 1429, in this very fortress in Chinon (began in the 10th century),  she persuaded the disinherited French king Charles VII to stand up for himself or at least to let her stand up for him and for France. He agreed and it made a king of him and a martyr of Joan who was captured by the Burgundians and handed over to the English who engineered, with church cooperation, her burning at the stake for heresy.  

Here be dragons! A summer exhibition in the fortress. Even Nessie is here.

Twenty five years later, the verdict was overturned by an inquisitorial court and the rehabilitation has been going on ever since. The Maid of Orleans, who lived to be just 19, is the French patriot and has been used worldwide as an example of patriotism. 
No shortage of cabbage plants at the market
The morning was much more peaceful. Then, we headed up the road to nearby Bourgueil (about 13 km) for the weekly market there. It was packed. It is spread over the main street, some adjoining ones and also takes in a smallish hall.  All over the place and hard (not impossible!)  to get a handle on it as food stalls are mixed in with those selling clothes, shoes, knives, and so on.
A local goat cheese.
"Drink with dry wine!"
We had no bother filling bags. Got lots of local fruit including delicious melons. Also a local goat cheese, after a taste and with some friendly advice to eat it with a dry wine. Lunch too was covered, mine a crispy tasty mille feuille with ham and cheese. Met the man with the beer and wine that we’d seen last week in Chinon and went off with some beer and a large bottle of gorgeous apple juice.
The boys at the bar, a very popular market stall.
Had been hoping to pick up a good ready-made meal at the market but they seemed in short supply so we fell back on our local traiteur in Chinon and now have a Pork Curry in the fridge for dinner, along with some other bits and pieces that will cover starter and dessert  from Bourgueil. A bottle of local beer is nearing its end and a bottle of local wine is about to be opened.

The sun too has made an appearance this afternoon after a hazy morning that promised mist but delivered zilch. Looks like dining al fresco this evening.

Monday, August 19, 2013

She was Queen of France and then Queen of England

Day 3:
She was Queen of France and then Queen of England.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the richest and most powerful women ever.

Eleanor effigy
 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 crushed underfoot.
The duck
 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.
The Sabayon dessert