Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Locked in with the Cardinal's cats


















Le ‘Musée du Chat’ in Richelieu is housed in a stately house on one of the town’s main streets. No tourists’ crowds here, but just an elderly lady who opens the door after you’ve rang the bell.
Once you’ve paid her the entrance fee, she hands you an in plastic covered sheet, explaining the different items that you are about to see. And then she disappears …

Left on our own, we ventured up the creaking wooden staircase to the first floor of the house. There was a display of several paintings, drawings and statuettes of the Cardinal, with and without cats, cats in all colours, sizes and positions: jumping, playing with toys, knitting wool or mice, lounging on sumptuous red velvet cushions with golden tassels, climbing trees, etc.

The second floor contained more of these items. The higher you went, the dustier they got. It was obvious that this dear old lady had a passion for cats herself and that during her life she had collected all sorts of stuff connected with them, which she had now put on display. Living in Richelieu, the link with the cat loving Cardinal was easily made.

After looking around for about half an hour, we went downstairs and found the door locked! And there was no one in sight. How were we to get out of this place? We went up again. At the far end of the first floor landing we noticed a narrow staircase. We went down as quickly as possible … and got to a door that luckily wasn’t locked! We stepped out in the bright sunlight and looked for the old lady to tell her that we had finished our visit and that we were about to leave. She was nowhere to be seen. We waited for a short while … but there still was no sign of her. Could she have been the ghost of the Cardinal’s housemaid in charge of tending to his cats?

Are you at cat or a dog person?


8 comments:

Not Waving but Drowning said...

How spooky.

It's cats for me but having just caught Mimi playing with a dead baby rabbit, I'm right off her today.

GG

ladybird said...

GG, I prefer cats as well, but sometimes they can be very cruel indeed.

Ken Broadhurst said...

I'm more a dog person, as you know. You need to return to Richelieu to see if you can find that woman again. Then you'll know she's not a ghost... if she isn't.

ladybird said...

Ken, I can't image that the museum still exists. Very few people know about it. And the lady was very old indeed ... She might be a contemporary ghost by now :)!

henri proust said...

The lady to whom you refer was called Mme Leroy, rather appropriately. The house is now for sale as the years have caught up with the charming old proprietor. Although dusty, the magnificent old house is in good condition and someone will finally buy it no doubt. Have a look at my blogspot all about the town; there's even a post on the cardinals 14 cats.
http://richelieu-eminencerouge.blogspot.com/search?q=serpolet

ladybird said...

HP, Why am I not suprised by the lady's name? As you say, it is/was rather appropriate. By the way, did you know that she was of Belgian origin? She told us herself during our memorable visit. Sorry to hear that she has passed away and that the house is for sale.

Tsjmom said...

I'm a huge dog lover! My 'first born' was a very beloved yellow labrador retriever, and now we have a black lab puppy.

ladybird said...

Tsjmom: Although I prefer cats, when it comes to dogs, Labradors are my favourite too.