A royal stopover at Champigny-sur-Veude
Did you notice the walls of a beautiful chapel as you drove along the road between Chinon and Richelieu? Take the time to stop and go inside the Sainte-Chapelle in Champigny-sur-Veude for a unique experience in France. This is what I did myself!
I had often heard that this chapel is unique and quite unusual in France… and that it was “sainte” (holy). So I asked my guide, Marie-Pierre Terrien, a historian and major specialist in the history of the Richelieu region, to tell me all about the Sainte-Chapelle.
To my surprise, I learned that there are only seven Sainte Chapelles in France (in good condition), including the one in Champigny-sur-Veude.
But what is a Sainte-Chapelle exactly?
They are chapels founded by (and for) the descendants of Saint-Louis (King Louis IX), either by kings or princes.
The chapel in Champigny is a royal chapel built at the request of Louis I, Duke of Bourbon in the 15th century. All the chapels have the particularity of having hosted the relics of Christ’s Passion. And all have a family resemblance to their model, the famous royal Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
Nestled in a small village in the south-west of Touraine, this exceptional chapel features architectural riches and beautiful stained-glass windows. What struck me when I entered the chapel was the beauty of the stained-glass windows, with the kind of workmanship usually found in paintings. Here you can admire 11 glass walls, 8m high. According to my guide, they are the most beautiful Renaissance stained-glass windows in France. The windows are wonderfully well preserved and teeming with details and colours. Among other themes, they tell the story of Saint Louis, from his coronation to his death, via the Crusades in the Holy Land. Lovers of religious heritage can admire the finely painted and sculpted keystones in homage to the Bourbons with their famous crowned L and bird wings, as well as the entrance portico dating from the second Renaissance with its Greco-Roman influences (something unique in the Loire valley!).
All the architectural and historic riches are revealed during a guided tour of the Chapel, which I strongly recommend, in the company of Marie-Pierre, an eminent and enthusiastic specialist.
Enjoy your visit!
Guided visit (reservation required) all through the year. Call 02 47 95 71 46 / 06 83 66 24 57
You can also enjoy the combined guided visit to the town of Richelieu + guided visit to the Sainte-Chapelle by reserving with the Azay-Chinon Loire Valley tourist office
on 02 47 58 13 62.
The Sainte-Chapelle is open:
– in summer (July/August) every day from 2 to 6 pm
– From 1 to 30 September every day from 2 to 6 pm (except Tuesday)
– during the Easter weekend
– From 1 May to 30 June from Thursday to Sunday 2 to 6 pm
A little further reading on sale from the Tourist Office in Richelieu.