I put Loches on our travel programme for several reasons. First of all because the medieval town has a lot to offer. There is the old fortified donjon with its 360 steps, gloomy prison, small, yet well-tended and intriguing medieval garden and superb view over the rooftops of Loches. Then there is the ‘Logis Royal’ where renaissance beauty queen Agnès Sorel lived at some point in her short life.
The rooftops of Loches, seen from the balcony of the Logis Royal.
The elegant and pocket-size castle is in real contrast with the rugged old dungeon. Almost like ‘beauty and beast’, an expression that also applies to Agnès’ relationship with Charles VII of France, who – if we are to believe the painted portraits of the man – was in my humble opinion one of the ugliest men I’ve ever seen. Or else the portrait painters weren’t very good at their job! Another highlight of Loches is the Church of Saint-Ours where the lovely Agnès is buried. The ‘gisant’ of white marble on her tomb is a ‘thing of beauty and therefore a joy for ever’ (thank you Mr. Keats!).
I don’t think I'll climb and descend all 360 steps of the donjon this year, because the last time I did in May 2010, I experienced a nagging pain in my left hip and leg. Eight months later the pain had developed into an extremely painful sciatica that scared the hell out of me, because my left leg was partly paralyzed. Impossible to walk stairs or normal distances. I was on sick leave for the whole month of February 2010 and had 12 sessions of physiotherapy before I was able to resume ‘normal service’.
The pretty blue gate on the right.
This time, no donjon or steps for me. I’ll hang around in the medieval garden, weather permitting, to watch the plants growing and to observe the wildlife. Prepare yourself for a lot of photos of flowers, green leaves and bumble bees!
The medieval garden at the foot of the donjon.
The real reason why we are going to Loches has nothing to do with the donjon, the logis and not even the beautiful blue gate that attracts so much attention. No, the real reason is ... friends. After three years, blogger friend Jean and I are finally going to meet. We almost managed a meet and greet last year when I was in the UK. But our carefully scheduled plan fell apart at the minute. This year, however, we intend to be successful. Loches, being halfway between Vouvray, where we will be staying, and Le Grand Pressigny, where Jean and Nick have their holiday home, is the perfect place for us to get together. Jean will book a table for lunch at the ‘Gerbe d’Or’ where my friends and I had a very nice and enjoyable lunch in 2010. This is so exciting ....