May 24, 2010

Montreuil-Bellay - May 21

We toured the Château de Montreuil-Bellay on a hot but windy day. It has nine centuries of history in an inhabited castle.

Because people are still living here, there are many sections where we couldn't visit, or sections where we could visit but couldn't take photos. 

The Great Dining Hall had an elaborate chandelier from Venice and an ornate German hutch.  The main bedroom was rather fascinating because the bed and the end tables were made from church furniture, the kneeling prie-dieux now recommissioned as bedside tables.  One very interesting display was an assortment of bidets (bedchamber pots), including the first "porta potty".  It is said that one priest was fond of extremely long sermons, so the women would bring these small little pots to church and squat down on them during the sermon, to be used as needed, their huge skirts retaining all modesty.  One can only assume that they wore no underwear...

The Sitting and Great rooms displayed lion and lamb hides side by side.  This related to an oil painting displayed prominently on the wall, commissioned by Napoloeon in honour of General Mouton.  The General won a great battle at Abensberg when all others said it couldn't be done.  He led the storming of "the blazing bridge", causing Napoleon to make the pun, "Mon Mouton est un lion!" ("My sheep is a lion!")  General Georges Mouton had a distinguished career, to say the least!  And what is the connection to the château? General Mouton married into the family that owned this château.
This was taken in the kitchen.  All those copper pots were a treasure to behold!

 Talk about an old teapot.  I bet the "Tea Ladies" would love this one.

This wrought iron sign was found in the courtyard of the château.

A cowled gargoyle, ready to pounce on the unwary.

 Not sure what this could be.  Karl's guess is a fancy dog house since they were very fond of hunting. 

 A sundial.  With 32 degrees and not a cloud in sight, there was no problem reading the sun today.

 The gardens are beginning to take shape.


 A view of the town from the ramparts.

This is still an active winery, so just before leaving the château, we enjoyed some wine tasting.  We bought three bottles, Marguerite's favourite being the rosé - of course!

~ AM & OK

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