Montbazon, The Oldest Castle in France
Near Tours on The Loire Valley (France - only at 12 Km. from Tours - direction to Spain)
WELCOME to MONTBAZON:
the Indre river, stand an imposing medieval keep.
Foulques III Nerra (970-1040), count of Anjou is the builder.
He is a high colored personnage, like we can imagine a great Lord of the Middle Age, alternating crimes et penances.
In sight of its Touraine's conquest, he make built a net of fortresses encircling the city of Tours (just before the year thousand); Those of Langeais and Montbazon are the oldest. The keep of Montbazon forbid the Indre's ford.
It consist of a square tower with walls wich are about 2 and 2,40 meters thick. It is about 20 meters high ( 28 m).
The southern and
east fronts have buttresses.
It was constitued of a ground floor and 3 stages.
to it, the small keep("le petit donjon"), lower structure ; its rule
was to protect the keep's entrance that was in height.
the modifications and later buildings almost nothing subsist today :
In the XII , the keep was raised, surmonted of battlements and covered whith a 4 sloping roofs.
In the XV century, transversaly on the place on the level of the round tower, the lord of the time built the "New Castle"("Château-Neuf").
About 1490, the domain became the estate of Rohan family, which coat-of-arms is still that from Montbazon.
road to Spain.
In the middle of the XVIIIth century, new roads are built; most of them exist still today, they are our national roads.
In Montbazon, it's our N 10 that cross the town and modificate its landscape.
The principal street ( Emmanuel Brault street ) was'nt wide enough, the new road cut Montbazon (all is pulled down!!).
In the meadow, a canal is dug to deviate an arm of Indre (which crossed on the actually city hall place) and a new bridge is built.
It is at this time that the "New Castle", most of the ramparts, towers and battlements were used as careers for the road..
One towns door only exist : the door of the milles.
The keep survived at that and at the french revolution!!
The air telegraph.
This Chappe's brothers invention (french) consisted on a semaphore with moved arms, it was used to send messages.
This system could only work by day and clear weather, everybody understood that it disappeared at the beginning of the electric telegraph.
Today, it only remain from this semaphore station (in fonction from 1823 to 1852) the iron balustrade, on the south-western corner of the tower.
Lady of Good Help.
The priest Chauvin( vicar in Montbazon from 1848 to 1890) was a priest with full of ideas. The church almost in ruins was restored (they found one of the keep's underground ).
He dreamed on using the keep to support a Virgin's statue, holy of the parish. The thunder fissured the keep in 1797, so they had doubts about his solidity. Finally, the idea was accepted.
On the north-eastern corner of the keep, a base was prepared and the statue from 9,30 meters was installed on novembre 4, 1866, it is made of copper plates rivetted together and filled to the 2/3 with stones and concrete.
Dudley and Lilian Whitteker.
In 1922, William Dudley, an Americain architect, fallen in love with the keep, buys it. He consolide it and save it now from the destruction.
He build again the
western tower and add it a contiguous home in the style of XV century.
In 1923, his friend Lilian Whitteker come to live in the "logis William".
She paints especially the keep and flowers.
In 1970, she leave Montbazon and go in the "Bourdaisière" castle where she die in 1979.
She left Great Memories in the Heart of the Montbazon's inhabitants.
Since this date, the "logis William" has been a pancakes restaurant, from its terrace everybody can contemplate the beautifull panorama.
A new owner has just acquired the keep. Mr Atterton whishes to open the site to the public. It's the oldest keep of France and it must be preserved.
He is doing all the necessary works to the safety of the public.
To know more
"MONTBAZON ET VEIGNÉ aux temps jadis" J.Maurice
"MONTBAZON souvenirs et documents du vingtième siècle" Eric Syssau