To the heart of France: part two



Do the French speak English? I was talking Romanian with my family at this restaurant in Amboise when the waiter comes and proposes us a menu for Anglo-Saxons. “We are not English”, I answer. “Oh, I thought you spoke English there”, he retorted. Good evidence of how well the French are acquainted with English.



Chinon, 1181, King Henry II holds the Christmas court here at Chinon. The castle had been one of his favourite residences when he was in Anjou taking care (=extending and conquering) of his continental estates. It his also at the castle of Chinon that dear old Henry II died in 1189.





In 1152, Henry, duke of Anjou, Maine, etc, future king of England, married out of love, a woman out of legend. Not in Alexandria, or Rome, or Camelot has there been such a queen. Only one of her sons, John, outlived her.

In the abbey of Fontevraud she is setting the trend for “the reader” effigy, one of the many artistic transformations of the 12th century Renaissance. May she rest in peace for she hardly had any in her lifetime. Except perhaps those fifteen years when her beloved husband kept her locked up in Salisbury tower. Résidence surveillée, actually.




The arrogant castle of Saumur


The river Loire at Amboise heedlessly rushing past the stone bridge



The Romanesque church of Saint-Martin in Amboise, deformed by the late-Gothic portal.

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