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

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Renaissance Beauty Queen

It’s only a short walk from the donjon of Loches to the Logis Royal – the Royal residence – where the king and his court lived when they were in town. The area is a traffic-free zone, except for the ‘riverains’, i.e. the people who live in these streets. The houses along the ‘Mail du Donjon’ (the Dungeon’s Mall) are very small and although they are in excellent repair, they look extremely old. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were built shortly after the dungeon.


'Mail du Donjon'

The mall is lined with trees and colourful irises. It’s all very pristine and peaceful and the odd car that drives up or down the mall, respectfully limits its speed to 10 km per hour. A bit further down is the ‘Presbytère’, a B and B and restaurant with a large terrace overlooking the town. We had a very nice salad lunch there in 2007. It’s almost next door to a very beautiful private house with an intricate wrought iron gate, painted in blue and gold. I can’t help wondering what it would be like to live in a house like that!


I wish I could have some of these in my mother's garden.
(click to enlarge and fully enjoy their beauty)

Just around the corner is the ‘collégiale’ church, where Agnes Sorel, King Charles VII’s mistress is buried. I’ve written about her short life and mysterious death in an earlier post. She was considered as one of the most beautiful women of her time. If we are to believe the historians, she wouldn’t have had any trouble becoming ‘Miss France 1442’. She would have been 20 years old then; the perfect age to become a Renaissance Beauty Queen.


My dream house ...

We went to see her white marble ‘gisant’ – burial monument with a life-size statue of the deceased lying on top –in the Saint-Ours Collégiale church. Personally, I was slightly disappointed. Even knowing that beauty standards have changed since the 15th century, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Okay, I admit, she was a nice looking young woman, but I had expected her features to be more delicate and refined.

This was confirmed by the computer animation that we saw later at the Logis Royal. On a TV screen is shown how her skull, which was dug up in 2005 to do research in order to determine the cause of her untimely death, slowly transforms into a ‘living’ face. Her best features were definitely her clear blue eyes, fair hair, flawless skin and rosy complexion. Apart from that, I found her face rather plump and her nose too large …

Agnes Sorel was not the only noble woman to have lived or stayed at the Logis Royal. It was also the temporary residence of Anne of Brittany and Joan of Arc dropped on two occasions. She came to see Charles VII in order to incite him to travel to Reims to be sworn in as King of France. That’s probably why the Logis, compared to the rough and manly nearby donjon, is such an elegant and ‘feminine’ building.

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8 comments:

Lynn said...

We visited there last week and those lovely houses along the road were so tidy and neat. It looked to be such a nice place to live. I would have loved to see inside one of them.

Carolyn said...

Martine, I photographed that same beautiful gate, angled to the left to show off the climbing roses. Please buy that house and invite us to stop by for tea.

ladybird said...

Lynn and Carolyn, I promise ... the day I buy that house I'll invite you both. And not just for a look around or a cup of tea! No, you can even stay the weekend! :))

Dedene said...

A very interesting story about Agnès. I haven't visited her château before. I'll put it on my list.

Nadege said...

Martine, beauty is only skin deep. I work with some of the most beautiful women in the world. Believe me, when a "beauty" is not very nice, you can't see the beauty anymore but a sexy, charismatic woman (with a beautiful smile, dimples...), fun personality... but that is not a "10" will charm you and you will only see her beauty and charms. Apparently there was a study done (few years ago which means the results could change now days) butstill, I want to ask : do you know what is the first thing people notice (unconsciously) when they are facing you? (from the back, it could be the hight, weight, long legs...).

ladybird said...

Dedene, Agnès' story is very intriguing and the exhibition at the Logis Royal is very enlightening. It's not as elaborate as it used to be in 2007, just after the results of the excavation were made public, though. But it's still worth a visit!


Nadege, The appreciation of physical beauty is a very personal thing. I will recognize beauty as such, but it doesn't mean that I'll be attracted to that person.

I suppose/hope your question was a hypothetical one, as I really wouldn't know the answer. :) Martine

Nadege said...

The answer is skin.

ladybird said...

Nadege, Does that include ... wrinkles?