Château de Montsoreau

Montsoreau, France

The Château de Montsoreau is a castle constructed in 1455 by Jean de Chambes, a senior councillor to King Charles VII. Erected on the bank of the Loire river, it was a strategic fortress, controlling river traffic between Chinon and Saumur. In fact the castle of Montsoreau has an exceptional position at the confluence of two rivers, the Loire and the Vienne, and at the meeting point of three historic regions: Anjou, Poitou and Touraine. Unlike other castles by the Loire, Montsoreau was directly built in the river.

By the end of the 19th century, the castle was abandoned and in near ruins. Today, having undergone extensive renovation, it is owned by the département and houses the Musée des Goums Marocains. In the 20th century the castle became a museum during 50 years. 

The Château de Montsoreau has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862. However, the photos from the French Cultural Ministry show it to be in significant disrepair with broken doors and windows and untended grounds. Visitors to the castle can see a show with music and light and depicting activity in the river and the landscapes of the Loire, and the legend of its Dame de Montsoreau.

Alexandre Dumas's novel La Dame de Monsoreau is based upon the amorous escapades of two ladies who occupied the castle during the reign of King Henri III.

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Château d'Olhain

The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.

The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.

The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.

During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.