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Two men of France, Richelieu and Rabelais. And some animals!
Would Richelieu approve?
Those of you following my Loire story will be aware that I’ve
“met” some admirable women here, including Eleanor of Aquitaine and Jean d’Arc.
Today, it is the turn of two men, beginning with Cardinal Richelieu, a major influence
in French politics, for much of the time what we’d call a prime minister today,
in the 17th century, having been consecrated a bishop in 1608, and
the man responsible to a large degree for the flight of the Huguenots to Cork and elsewhere.
You’ll find the Wikipedia article on him here.
Not too far south of Chinon, Richelieu set about building a walled town to be named
after him. And he made such a good job of it that much of it remains today,
with the glaring exception of his own chateau.
We thought we’d hit the jackpot when we saw a load of stalls
in the market place and the outstanding timber framed market hall, another thriving
Richelieu relic, all set up for a feast. But the fun and games weren’t due to
start for some hours.
Still we had a walk in the magnificent park, another legacy from
the cardinal, and saw some of the animal and farm machinery exhibitions being
set up, including some very strange forms of poultry and a great line-up of
vintage tractors (some with machinery on tow).
The Cardinal. "I want...."
Big Boy. Rabelais's Gargantua
Sixteenth century Francois Rabelais was the complete Renaissance man, a monk (of at least two orders), a doctor, a major writer and a humanist. We visited his original home in La
Deviniere today, a modest enough dwelling, though hugely enlarged by its
underground caves, which have many uses.
Between La Deviniere and a nearby Abbaye de Seuilly there is
a short walk, a pleasant one. The 600 metres is lined with banners, mostly with
quotes from Rabelais. “I love you from the bottom of my liver” is one. “To philosophize
in wine, not in vain” is another. His
humanist tendencies are underlined with “Try every art of peace”.
Try all the arts of peace.
Read them all on the way back to the car park at La
Deviniere and soon we were on our way to Chinon and to our favourite traiteur. Every
holiday maker in France, especially if you don’t want to do any cooking, should
check out the best local traiteur on arrival.
They make lovely cooked dishes, including some French
classics, at a fraction of restaurant prices. Quality is usually good (you
should try at least two shops) and the meals just need re-heating in the oven
or microwave. We bought enough for two main courses each for about thirty six
euro and are all set up for the weekend. Back to the restaurants after that!
And the wine this evening? Nothing less than bubbles and a
very special rosé sparkler from yesterday’s visit to Chateau Minière. Eating and drinking, included among the arts of peace. Cheers.