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

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A man and his cats

In my recent post on the subject of Yul Brynner’s tomb, I mentioned the town of Richelieu or the ‘City of the Cardinal’. It’s named after the famous ‘Emminence Rouge’, the Cardinal de Richelieu. Born into a noble family in 1585 as Armand Jean du Plessis, he became a clergyman. Being extremely ambitious, he worked his way up to become one of the most influential statesmen of his time.

To the general public he’s best known as the scheming leader of the ‘bad guys’ in Alexandre Dumas’ novel ‘The three musketeers’.

It must be said, however, that the man had his merits as well. One of them was erecting, some 20 km south of Chinon, in the middle of the countryside, a town according to a concept that was quite revolutionary and unseen in that day and age. Being the humble (hum) man he was, he named the town after himself: Richelieu. The Cardinal’s palace does no longer exist, as it was badly damaged during the French Revolution and completely dismantled some decades later. Only part of the well-tended gardens remains. But you can take a virtual visit of the castle on the town’s website.

We’ve visited Richelieu on two occasions. The first time we only took an outside tour, discovering the symmetrical and rectangular pattern of the town. On our second visit we saw the ‘Musée du Chat’ (The cat’s museum). Apparently, Richelieu was a great cat lover. In his enormous palace he used to surround himself with dozens of feline creatures. This tiny, privately owned museum pays tribute to cats in general, and the Cardinal’s cats in particular.

(to be continued)


Jean said...

I never knew about the cat museum. Must go next time we are in the area.

ladybird said...

Jean, Do you still feel like visiting the cat's museum after reading the second part of my post? Just kidding ... it's worth the visit if you like the 'insolite'.

henri proust said...

Point of fact: Armand Jean du Plessis, cardinal duc de Richelieu was give the ducal title after his home town's name, not the other way round. Before the grand cité idéale, Richelieu was a hamlet only but had a long history, originally being called Richeloc.
To you or I today his name would be M. Armand du Plessis.

ladybird said...

HP, Thanks for joining my blog. Your historical knowledge on Richelieu is very welcome indeed. Maybe I should specify in the sidebar of my blog that my posts are based on personal experience and information I occasionaly pick up when visiting a town.

henri proust said...

Oops-I didn't mean to be schoolmasterly or nit-picky.
p.s. your English is of course absolutely FAB!

ladybird said...

HP, Don't worry, no offence taken.