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Medieval Travel Guide

Langeais Castle

Langeais is a splendid example of late Medieval castle architecture, with the interior façade announcing the Renaissance. It is situated 22 km west of Tours.

How to get there:

By Train: Take the train from Tours. The journey is taking only 17 minutes The round trip (aller-retour) is 4.80 Euros.
If you drive: The GPS is your best friend.

History of Langeais Castle

Langeais Castle
Langeais Castle

The Langeais Castle has a tumultuous history.

By the end of the 10th Century, the Count of Anjou, Foulque Nerra conquered Langeais, and built a fortress to establish his power. The count was indeed one of the best in Medieval military architecture. The keep at Langeais was built in 992. This keep, or the ”donjon”, having a basement and an upper floor, survived to this day, with its simple, squared appearance in a stark contrast with the more elaborate castle of Louis XI.

In 1044, Langeais became a Plantagenêt possession. Together with Touraine, Langeais remained a possession of the House of Anjou and then the Plantagenêt until the end of the 12th century. In 1206, following the victories of Philip II Augustus against King John of England, Langeais is again under the French King authority.

After enduring extended damage during the Hundred Years War, the Langeais Castle was rebuilt under Louis XI, who designated his counselor, Jean Bourré, to direct the restoration works between 1465-1467, in cooperation with Jean Briçonnet. In 1468, Louis XI had to face a much stronger ennemy, the Duke of Bourgogne, Charles the Brave (le Téméraire). At that time the castle was in possession of the King's cousin Dunois, son of the companion of Jeanne d’Arc. From the city, what we see is a wonderful, typical Medieval castle, with three huge cylindrical towers (donjons) dominating the landscape. We enter through the drawbridge over the moat which was one of the lines of defense surrounding the castle. The advanced Medieval fortifications are offering perfect examples of machicolations surrounding the castle, with a length of over 150 meters.

The interior court is surprising, offering a quite different perspective, due to the architectural Renaissance influence. The impression is accentuated by the elegantly designed and carefully maintained gardens.

Despite its austerity, the castle is richly decorated, and, thanks to Jacques Siegfried, who restored the castle in the 19th Century, has also one of the finest collection of period furniture.

In 1491, the Langeais castle was the wedding place of Anne de Bretagne and Charles VIII. The wedding was celebrated by Bishop Louis d'Amboise. Anne de Bretagne was actually forced to marry the King of France, who was threatening to invade Brittany. It was thus a political marriage, and it marked the start of the reunification of Brittany and the French Kingdom. You can witness the wedding scene yourself in watching a light and wax models reenactment in one of the castle halls.

In 1631, king Louis XIII offered the castle to Louise de Lorraine, daughter of the Duke of Guise. She later sold Langeais to Marshall d'Effiat. In 1766, it had a new owner, the Duke of Luynes, and in 1886 was bought by Jacques Siegfried. In 1904 it was offered to the "Institut de France."

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