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)