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

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Mysterious buildings

When you drive along the D952 from Tours to Saumur, near the village of Luynes, you’ll see a strange tower-like building on your right hand. It’s called ‘La Pile de Cinq Mars; Cinq Mars also being the village and château that are located behind the trees.

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?



chm said...

My grand-mother used to say, I'm not superstitious because it brings bad luck!

I made that up a long time ago. In fact she was extremely superstitious. Her superstitions were endless!

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Hi Martine,
Did you have a good birthday?
I was so impressed with Pont de Guard and never realised that this structure was so close to our travels on our last two visits.

Anonymous said...

But you know that Friday, the 13th is considered a lucky day for playing the lottery in France. Maybe the 13th time in the Loire Valley will be lucky for you!

Carolyn said...

Martine, if you don't go back for the 13th trip, you can't go for the 14th trip, and the 15th, and on to infinity. I know you will go back!

Nadege said...

Martine, happy belated birthday! I think it was on April 11?
I am not superstitious.

Nadege said...

Re yesterday's post. I don't think the flowers are snapdraggons (gueules de loup). I don't know the name of that plant but I saw one this morning on my way to the doctor.

Jean said...

Martine - you strike me as too sensible a person to pay heed to silly superstitions like 13 being unlucky !! It is only a number. And I bet nothing would keep you away from the Loire for a whole year !!

ladybird said...

Chm, Now I know were you got your sense of humour! :)

Leon and Sue, I had a fabulous birthday. Thank you.
As for the Aqueduct of Luynes, I think you would be disappointed as it's not even half the size of the Pont du Gard.

Dedene, Perhaps you're right. We'll see when the time comes!

Carolyn, Maybe I could do like they do in certain hotels ... I saw it once in Geneva, where there was no elevator button for the 13th floor.

Nadege, Thank you for the birthday wishes! You're right about the date.

Jean, I won't take that bet, because I don't like to loose :))

Ken Broadhurst said...

Just think, Martine: did anything really bad happen on your 13th day in the Loire Valley? Or is that too long ago to remember?

ladybird said...

Ken, That would have been May 29th,2001! (I had to look that up :))! It was a Tuesday and we went to the market in Bourgueil, had a drink on the 'parvis' of the church at Candes Saint Martin and a picnic lunch near the village of Montbazon. The photos show a lovely sunny day. So you are probably right! It was a perfect day, in spite of the fact that it was the 13th day I spent in the Loire Valley!