Loire Valley Chateaux - Loches


The medieval town of Loches is unique in that whereas most Loire  Valley Chateaux are built on the sites of former fortresses with little remaining of the original fortress, here you have a citadel town that has both the remains of the fortress, built again by our old friend Foulques Nerra Count of Anjou (busy man!) in the 11th century and its 14th and 15th century Royal Lodgings both well enough preserved to give a good idea as to how the site was used through the centuries.

What today is referred to as the Donjon is in fact a group of defensive buildings that lie on the southern side of the citadel. The oldest and most impressive of these is the rectangular dungeon which is said to be one of the finest examples in Europe. Its three floors were used by the Count occasionally as a dwelling place and a fortress. Inside you can still see the the remains of the  fireplaces used to try and heat the building. New defensive elements were added over the centuries  to complete the citadel and provide protection for the people of the town.

The first wall around the castle was completed after it was captured and occupied by Henry II of England and his son, Richard the Lionheart during the 12th century, the castle withstood the assaults by the  French in their wars for control of the country. They had control for a short period while Richard was away fighting in the crusades but he recaptured it on his return within three hours!. It was finally captured by King Philippe in 1205. More building work immediately turned Loches into a huge military fortress. The last wall was completed in the 15th century -- two impressive gates of which can still be seen today. It is a strange feeling to sit under the shade of the trees in front of the keep where Richard the Lionheart probably strolled centuries before.

You can, if you have a good head for heights climb the manufactured walkways to view the inside of the keep and dungeon and inspect the Iron cages used to hold its prisoners -- these were only 2mtrs x 2 mtrs and it is said that their designer after conspiring against the king did in fact end up in one himself.!



The Royal  Lodgings. 

Situated to the north of the citadel, the  least exposed to attacks, it was   used as the residence of the King and his court when they were passing through the town.Two buildings dating from different periods sit side by side, the south-east part, built against the round tower called the Agnes Sorel tower was built at the end of the 14th century. Its built-in turrets and its machicolations are reminiscent of military architecture. It was here, in May 1429, Joan of Arc, on her way back from Orleans, came to find Charles VII and convinced him to go to Reims in order to be crowned.

The castle would become a favourite residence of Charles VII who gave it to his mistress, Agnes Sorel as her residence. It would be converted for use as a state prison by his son, Louis XI  who had lived there as a child but  preferred the chateau at Amboise as a residence -- spoilt for choice really.


From the terraces you have excellent views on three sides over the town.



 Unless you really want to you could miss out viewing the inside as there really isn't a great deal to see as it is sparsely furnished with little in the way of furnishings.


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