The Château du Rivau is a castle-palace in Lémeré. It is intimately linked to the illustrious Beauvau family, related to the Counts of Anjou. During the 13th century, the Beauvau family served the Kings of France and were allied to the royal family through the marriage of Isabeau de Beauvau to Jean II de Bourbon in 1454. During the 17th century, Le Rivau was protected by Richelieu as his sister Françoise was married to Jean de Beauvau, lord of Rivau. Once they became princes of Lorraine, the Beauvau family left the Touraine region. Le Rivau remained in the family's possession for 247 years.
In 1768, the marquis Michel-Ange de Castellane, the lord of Villandry, acquired Le Rivau. He stayed there with his family until 1796. At the turn of the 20th century, the sculptor Alphonse de Moncel de Perrin, who worked on the ornamentation of the Petit-Palais in Paris, managed to have Le Rivau listed among the Historical Monuments in 1918.The painter Pierre-Laurent Brenot lived at Le Rivau from 1960 to 1992. At the end of the 20th century, Le Rivau as though touched by a magic wand, found once again its original splendour after a 18-years restoration campaign.
With its majestic keep and its protective drawbridge, the Château du Rivau seems to come straight out of a fairy tale. Its shape is reminiscent of 13th century fortified castles as suggest the square layout one can still discern. The square shaped keep was the heart of the castle’s fortification. Yet the Rivau was one of the first ornamental castles to be built: its cheminees, wide windows and frescos endow it with a harmonious style. In the dining hall a biblical episode of the Feast of Belshazzar was depicted over the fire mantelpiece by a Flemish master of the 16th century.
The 12 gardens of Rivau are designated a Jardin Remarquable (by a French organisation that recognises remarkable gardens). They are inspired by fairy tales and legends and take the visitors on a beautiful and fantastical journey. The Rivau fairytale gardens are also a treat for rose lovers and gardeners, as they display a collection of more than 300 roses from famous rose breeders such as André Eve or David Austin.
Joan of Arc came to Le Rivau to fetch horses in 1429. At that time, war horses were already bred at le Rivau, where the current commons stand. In 1510 François de Beauvau, the King’s chief squire, decided to build stables (most certainly in wood) where they had existed at the time of the Hundred-Years War. He died during the battle of Romagne, to the side of Bayard in 1524. His heir, Gabriel de Beauvau daringly undertook the erection of original stables, whose plans were directly inspired from the Italian architectures, knights had discovered while fighting for the King. Until then the Rivau’s stables were only meant to be functional and had no ornaments whatsoever. One of le Rivau’s main idiosyncrasies comes from the fact that for the first time in the history of equestrian architecture, stables were designed by an architect who developed a pioneer style.
Le Rivau is also famous for the contemporary sculptures that are displayed around the gardens, with pieces by artists such as Fabien Verschaere, Cat Loray, Jerôme Basserode, Frans Krajcberg and Philippe Ramette.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.