Langeais is pronounced lawn-jay, but the J is soft, like when you say the French word for “I” — “Je.”
It’s a fortress – a château-fort – located in the town of Langeais, and it was built rather quickly (it only took two years) in the XV century by a man named Bourré for King Louis XI.
What’s truly remarkable about this château, and what made it our absolute favourite, is the fact that its last owner – Jaques Siegfried – spent twenty years, at the end of the 19th century, collecting furnishings and tapestries from the 15th and 16th centuries so he could restore the château to its former princely glory.
The interior is like no other château I’ve seen.
It’s so . . . warm.
So lived in.
Sure, there’s the ruins of the dungeons on the hill.
There’s the stone tower
(with its view over the town).
There are the numerous stone chimneys
The light does not always flood the room the way one might hope.
But you can imagine this place inhabited.
And I think that’s largely due to the floors
the canopy beds from the original era
and the wooden panels on the walls.
The most significant event that occurred here was the marriage between Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII. They were both young – 14 and 21, I think, and the king was sweet on someone else. But his advisors impressed upon him how important the alliance was. Anne had already received an engagement contract before she was of age (that the bishop was able to annul) from the Austrian Emperor. There would be no way to keep France intact if Brittany were allied with another power.
They got married in secret on December 6, 1491 before dawn. In this room.
By the time people got up, the bells were announcing their wedding and it was too late for any interloper to do anything about it.
Their children did not survive. Small pox and other diseases were not class conscious. The king eventually died, as well, and Anne married his successor, Louis XII.
The Loire Valley was once the Valley of Kings, and it’s intriguing to think about people – whose lives were so wholly removed from our own – walking these same halls and staring out these same windows.
But that’s the lovely thing about visiting a town like Langeais.
It’s precisely what you can do!
Information for this post came from this website. I realised I made a blunder when I included Tour in the “Six Châteaux” series because I intended for that to be a separate post. The most interesting part of Tours is the town, not the château. But since I included it, there are actually seven châteaux in all. And next up is Azay-le-Rideau.