Built by Jacques Lemercier, architect of Louis XIII, the city of Richelieu is a unique model of the 17th-century urban planning. Remarkable for its symmetrical architecture, the sumptuous «Ideal City» owes its name to its founder, the Cardinal of Richelieu.
Walking through one of the 4 monumental gates of this «Small city of character», reach the Place du Marché or the Place des Religieuses linked by the Grande Rue lined with its 28 private mansions. In one of these mansions, do not fail to visit the Espace Richelieu dedicated to the history of Armand Jean du Plessis, his city and his castle demolished in the 19th century reconstructed by a 3-dimensional scenography.
In the heart of the city, walk through the beautiful Halle, enter the many shops of craftsmen and visit the 17th-century baroque-style Church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. Nearby, the City Hall Museum exhibits a model of this extraordinary city as well as a part of the Cardinal’s collection composed of paintings and sculptures.
At the edge of the city labelled «Station Verte», walk around in the romantic park of 480 hectares with beautiful, shaded alleys housing the remains of the largest 17th-century castle of France from which only a few buildings now have survived.
From one of the first 20-kilometre connected Greenways of France linking Richelieu to Chinon, take the time to stop at the various theme stations and old train stations.
Along the Valley of the Veude, admire one of the 7 Saintes-Chapelles of France in Champigny-sur-Veude. Its magnificent Renaissance stained-glass windows of the 16th century divided into 11 windows of more than 8 meters retrace the life of Saint-Louis (ancestor of the Bourbon family) from his coronation in Reims until his death in Tunis.
Along the way, nature lovers can recharge their batteries on the banks of the Assay pond, Sensitive Natural Area where a tremendous ornithological reserve and various observatories offer you sublime views.
A few turns of pedals and you enter the fantastic world of the 15th-century Castle of Rivau in Lémeré combining history, nature and contemporary art. You will make an amazing journey through the 15 fabulous fairy-tale gardens which are classified as excellent and the royal stables where audio-visual presentations revive the glorious equestrian past of the site.
At the end of the journey, stay at the old train station of Ligré redesigned into a group accommodation. Setting above the village, an imposing dolmen «Le Carroi Bon Air» is surrounded by its underground refuges.
The Richelais full of many private heritages, some of them are related to the Cardinal. Under the choir of the 12th-century Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Braye-sous-Faye, a vaulted cradle-shaped crypt was the funeral crypt of the family of Richelieu until the Revolution. Not far away, stay in the beautiful Castle of Milly in Razines built in the 17th century and then enlarged in the 19th century. The mansion still houses one of the original towers of the Castle of Richelieu. Further south, the Castle of Chillou built in the 10th century in Jaulnay, belonged to the family of Armand-Jean du Plessis who had the title of Marquis of Chillou when he was young. A few kilometres away, the majestic fortified Romanesque Collegiate Church of Saint-Georges in the peaceful village of Faye-la-Vineuse has a 12th-century nave restored after 1870. Its 11th-century crypt is a real underground chapel with ambulatory.
To the East, the Royal Abbey of Saint-Michel de Bois-Aubry of the 12th century in Luzé, classified as a Historical Monument, is one of the masterpieces of the heritage for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It is famous for its history and its cemetery where the remains of the Hollywood actor Yul Brynner lie. To the north of Verneuil-le-Château, on the eastern plateau, look at the dungeon of the Tour-du-Raynier built on the foundations of the former fortress of the Giraudière in 1454. While walking in the charming village of Chaveignes, discover the small wash house of the village totally made of movable-floor wood. Another unusual wash-house, that of the Tour-Saint-Gelin located on the fountain of Mocrate built in 1850 owns the particularity of having a frame and roof with nine sides. In the surroundings, you will see the circular dovecote of the Castle of the Courtière in Courcoué dating from 1871 on the site of a fortress.
Finally, test new sensation accompanied by a pack of husky dogs in Braslou where Latitude Nordique offers you the Cani Kart and the Cani Rando. Then walk along the stalls of local markets and taste seasonal local products such as Saffron, Asparagus, Truffles of Marigny-Marmande, capital of truffles and its 50 hectares of truffles, but also the delicious Wines of Chinon. There will be something for everyone!
Saffron and truffles, red gold and black diamond in your plates!
Gluttony is a bad thing...well, that’s what it is said, but when you have exceptional products on your plate like saffron and truffle, this little defect becomes very quickly forgivable, almost admirable!
The city of Richelieu, the Cardinal’s imprint!
I highly recommend following a guided tour of the city of Richelieu, to discover the genesis of this 17th-century urban masterpiece, and much more...
One more good reason to make it a step: the city has just joined the Petites Cités de Caractère network and been certified Station Verte!