La Pile is a very strange structure indeed. At first sight it looks like the solitary chimney of a 19th century industrial building. However, when you take a closer look, you’ll notice that it’s much, much older. In fact it goes all the way back to Gallo-Roman times. Nobody seems to know what it is. It could be a look-out or navigation tower, the remains of a palace or even an over-sized tombstone.
Just behind the ‘Pile’, but not visible from the road, are the remains of the castle of Cinq Mars. The two main towers and the moat, which date from the 11th century, are all that’s left. Originally, the village and the château were called Saint Médard, but gradually the name changed into Saint Mars and finally became Cinq Mars.
One of the castle’s most illustrious ‘seigneurs’ was Henri Ruzé d’Effiat, Marquis de Cinq Mars and a ‘protégé’ of King Louis XIII. He was foolish enough to lead a conspiracy against France and Richelieu; an act which he paid with his life, as he was beheaded in Lyon on September 12th, 1642. He was only 22 years old.
Aqueduct de Luynes.
I’ve seen the ‘Pile’ on many occasions and I’ve read a lot about the castle. Over the years, however, we’ve never taken the trouble to stop and take a closer look. I hope that this year we’ll have the opportunity to do so. It would also be a good time to visit the nearby Gallo-Roman Aqueduct of Luynes. It was built in ancient times to assure the water supply of an important settlement that later became the city of Tours. The original aqueduct had 99 columns, 44 of which are still standing (only 40 according to some sources).
Once again, there are too many things to see and do. Maybe, and like one of my readers suggested, we should stay a month instead of five days. Or return to the Loire Valley in 2011 … But that would be our thirteenth visit! And although I hate to admit it, I’m a bit superstitious. Do you walk under ladders?