ABOARD RENAISSANCE-The church bells of Montbouy woke us all at 7 a.m. and after breakfast we piled into the van for the drive to the Castle – or Chateau, the French use the terms interchangeably – of Sully-Sur-Loire, built and built on from 1000 A.D.
Whereas Fountainebleau had been so grand and sprawling that none of us could imagine what life was like there, Sully fit cozily into our imaginations. It also has a moat which to our minds, all castles should have.
The Duke de Sully, formerly Maximillien de Bethune, to whom the castle was given in the 12th century, was Henri IV’s war and finance ministers and most loyal friend, also the richest man in the country.
The bedchamber built and designed for the king is quite grand, yet Henri IV never visited the castle. We pondered: was he too tied up in Paris? With the vast number of courtiers always accompanying a king did he not want to be a financial imposition on his friend or did he not like the Duke’s second wife who was described as not at all nice?
Joan of Arc stayed here twice, first in June 1429 as a hero, the deliverer Orleans, second to get her out of the way from December 1429 to March 1430. The French wanted to negotiate an end to war with the British, Joan wanted to fight until they were decimated.
The family’s wealth declined until in 1952 when it was necessary to sell the furnishings and the castle. In 1962 the local state of Fleury bought it and managed to buy back enough of the furnishings to give visitors a sense of the castle’s past grandeur.
On the slow voyage to Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses we marveled at the lush spring greens and more fields of rapeseed. Carol and Susan tested the hot tub while Max and I sunned. Yet another perfect day.
April 21, 2015 Judy Wells