Visit Chateau de Chinon
The Chateau de Chinon, not surprisingly, situated in the town of Chinon, in the Loire Valley, is made up of three separate fortresses, of which two have fallen almost completely in ruins. In fact, two fortresses, the ‘Chateau de Milieu’ and the Castle of Coudray have been partly restored.
Explore the Chateau de Chinon (Royal Fortress of Chinon)
The Chateau de Chinon is made up of three castles: the Middle castle, Fort Coudray and Fort Saint George.
The Middle castle has the most to see and consists of the royal quarters, the Argenton Tower, the Dogs Tower and the Clocktower. The Royal Quarters have the look of a beautiful manor house but were once a lot bigger. In the 15th century the royal quarters housed the royal apartments including antechamber, bedroom and bathroom. The dining rooms were on the ground floor and a Hall of Justice was added. There was also an indoor tennis court!
In the late 15th century the Argenton Tower was built to withstand the new gunpowder weapons that had been invented. Its walls are 5 meters thick and contain embrasures for cannons. Inside the tower you can see graffiti from its days as a prison in the 17th century.
Not much remains of the Dogs Tower (in the 15th century the royal kennels were nearby) but the Clocktower remains an impressive structure. It has served as the entrance to the Middle castle since the 12th century. The tower is on 5 levels and contains various rooms.
Fort Coudray consists of the Boissy Tower, the Mill Tower and the Coudray Tower. The Boissy tower was built in the 13th century and contains a guardroom and a terrace with access to the Coudray Tower. 15th century renovations provided a walkway to the Royal Quarters. From the Boissy tower you can get some excellent views over the Loire Valley.
The Mill Tower was a key defensive structure built in the 12th century by King John. It has a polygonal plan typical of the era but rare in the Plantagenet castles. It is called the Mill Tower due to the later addition of a windmill.
The Coudray Tower was built by Philippe Auguste after he captured the fortress from King John. It still has three intact levels. The lower level has a tunnel entrance providing a hidden escape route.
The third castle, the Fort Saint George, was built in 1160 by Henry II Plantagenet. It was built as an administrative building and to hold court rather than a defensive building and is named after its chapel, the chapel of Saint George. The castle was later fortified and acted as a defense from attack from the direction of Tours.
In the nineteenth century the fortress was the object of restoration work which was concluded in part in recent years. Upon entry, the Clock Tower is now the seat of the Joan of Arc Museum, full of relics, statues and paintings that summarize the autobiographical story of the young woman.
Some key moments in the history of the Chateau de Chinon
The Château de Chinon was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman castrum as a fortified stronghold by Theobald I, Count of Blois in the year 954. Later, in the 12th century Chinon was a primary residence for Henry II, the King of England and also the King of Anjou. Along with with Poitiers and Bordeaux it served as an important centre for the the vast Angevin holdings.
It is likely that Richard the Lionheart died at Chinon while its most famous event was as the location where Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) came to persuade Charles VII (at that stage dauphin) to stand up to the English in France. In the Coudray Castle you can see the tower where Joan of Arc was locked up.
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