Saturday, June 9, 2012

Following Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Painting, ca. 1485. An artist's interpretation, since the only portrait for which she is known to have sat has not survived. (Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490)
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans"  (ca. 1412 – 30 May 1431), is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France. She was captured by the Burgundians, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy," and was burned at the stake for heresy when she was only 19 years old.  [Wikipedia]

We decided to follow some of her steps when she was in Chinon.

Joan of Arc plaque

This plaque mentions that Joan stepped on the rim of a well to get down off her horse before undertaking the long ride up to the château, and this is the well.

Stepping on the well lip

We are on the road that Joan travelled on her way up to the castle to meet with the Dauphin, later Charles VII.

Signs everywhere tell us we are on the right path.

The castle is high and the road is steep.

Tower of Château in the distance

At start of path

Still a long way to go

Getting closer

Almost there

Château de Chinon

We will save the visit of the château itself for another day.

The Château de Chinon is an important shrine in Joan of Arc country and, as such, wheedles money from all passing pilgrims.  It was here in 1429 that the saint first recognized the disguised dauphin (later Charles VII), and persuaded him to give her an army to drive the English out of France. 

Before that, Chinon was the Plantagenet kings' favourite castle.

To get to the start of this path, we go to Chinon's old district, on the Rue Voltaire.  It's the town's bijou center and feels like a medieval film set.

Lined with 15th and 16th-century houses, it represents a cross-section of Chinonais history.

Maison Rouge

The "Maison Rouge" in the Grand Carroi is studded with a red-brick herringbone pattern.


A bit of colour along the way.

Palais du Gouverneur

The grandest mansion is the Palais du Gouverneur, with its double staircase and loggia.  Today it is a lawyer's office.

No. 44

No. 44 which houses the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, is a stone mansion where, in 1199, Richard the Lion-Heart is said to have died.  This photo is taken from the back of the building, where musicians were assembling to perform a concert.

Fearsome fence

You might say this is a very intricate barbed-wire fence.  It would certainly keep the riff-raff out!

Karl, reading up on St. Maurice Church.  (Maurice was my Dad's name.)

St. Maurice Church

Narrow street

Narrow or steep, the path is never easy.

Difficult path


Time to end the day with a great meal at "Les Années 30", one of our favourite restaurants.  Unfortunately, there is no more wild boar on the menu.

In anticipation


Four appetizers each: puff pastry as light as air with some herbs on top; a bite of fish (hidden behind the pastry); goat cheese tartlet; small black olives.
My entrée

My entrée was lox wrapped around a mango and lychee chutney - so very refreshing!  On the right, a row of shredded pickled mackrel next to dried flower petals.

Karl's entrée

Karl's entree was chicken in aspic with green shredded apples on top, mixed salad and iced cream.

Magret de Canard
We both had the same main course which was duck breast in a very concentrated sauce that was absolutely delicious!  Note the grapes which were poached on the stem.  The side dishes were mashed yam and bean sprouts in white wine with herbs.

Chocolate Mousse

The dessert was chocolate mousse, a scoop of lavender ice-cream with a flower cookie on top.

The most ironical statement of the evening was when the server brought the coffee with a plate of meringues and candied jelly and said, "Pour votre petit creu", which roughly translates to "A little something to ensure you don't have a little emptiness left in your stomach..."  As if that would be possible!

Final bites


  1. What a fabulous day. You visit such interesting places with rich history. And your meal -- my mouth is watering.

  2. It must be very tiring walking some of those paths, especially the "difficult" path, I was feeling your pain! What a great meal to end a very interesting day.

    1. Confession time. I took the elevator up to the Château and walked "down" the path... Much easier, although those old cobblestones are incredibly uneven and it would be easy to twist an ankle.