This 15th century château was built on the site of a Roman fortress of which only a fortified gateway remains. Protected by a large moat, the château consists of an enclosure wall flanked by two towers, a small fortified castle entrance, a dwelling and a chapel with stone flags.
Jeanne d’Arc has never been here. However, there is a link. Château-Guillaume is said to have been founded by Guillaume X, duke of Aquitaine, father of Alienor of Aquitaine (1137-1152).
The legend says that Alienor was born right here, at Château-Guillaume.
It is her marriage to Henry, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy that gave roots to the 100 Years War.
Two years after the wedding Henry and Alienor were crowned as King and Queen of England.
Alienor was also a Queen of France. It was a legal ground for the English to claim France as its domain. (The claim was legally dismissed only in 1789 after the French Revolution abolished the monarchy.)
Meanwhile, the 100 Years’ War was in full swing when Jeanne was born in 1412. By 1428 France had lost half of its territory and, aside from Scotland, had no allies. The situation was desperate when, at 13, she started hearing her “voix”.
At 16, following the call, she left her home in Domremy and crossed France to meet Dophin Charles at Chinon. The rest is history.
When the English burned her in Rouen she was still a teenager.
This map is a lucky find of mine, from the 1885 book En suivant Jeanne d’Arc sur les chemins de France. It was shipped to me from Lorient Bretagne of all places (a separate story!)
The maps, with some deviations, follow the same routes as described by Frances Caddy who travelled them personally on foot and by bicycle the next year, 1886. Her very-well documented account was published in London under the title Footsteps of Jeanne d’Arc: A Pilgrimage.
The print quality is very good.
It is fairly easy to transfer the routes into Google maps and Garmin. The job, however, is daunting when it comes to actually following them on a bicycle.
It took me about 10 days to cross France from Meuse to Chinon where I hoped to see my old friend Jean-Pierre.
Sadly, the woman who opened the door said that he had died. “Il est décédé.”
The river Vienne at Chinon. I can’t believe Jean-Pierre is dead.
Jargeau. Jeanne’s first successful assault on the English after Orleans.
Leaving Domremy la Pucelle on a rainy day… Basilique du Bois-Chenu.
The angel that gives Jeanne a sword is a scary concept. Think about it. The voice of God urges her to go and kill. And probably be killed back.
The church refused to recognize Jeanne until 1920.
Research – Oregon USA. It was a mistake to rely on the newest publications. The newer they are the less they are specific, when it comes to actual travel routes. In fact, they don’t seem to care. The latest French GPS maps of Jeanne d’Arc routes are made for car travel.
In other words, if you follow them you are in the AREA of her routes but almost never on the actual road that she took.
The best publications, as it turns out, are from the late XIX. Precice.
Loches. The tomb of Agnes Sorel, the official mistress of Charles VII. The king for whom Jeanne gave her life in Rouen.
In 2005 they excavated the tomb and examined the DNA. The facial part of the skull is well-preserved. There is an exhibition of the finds, next to the effigy.
The Chinon valley along the Vienne river is all covered with famous vineyards.
Some roads are not good for the small bike wheels! This one could be from the Roman times.
My green tent and the Brompton. Camping in Chinon
The Chinon castle. People picnicking on the beach. In France, you can drink wine anywhere you like.
A morning in Bléré. Stopping for a coffee and a croissant.
My lunch in Blois
The bridge that the French army crossed as the first move against the English to liberate Orleans. The army and supplies had been assembled at Blois. Jeanne’s title was “Chef de guerre” – the chief of war. She took command of the troops at the age of 16.