Rivau Castle (in French Chateau du Rivau) is one of the most attractive places for all those interested in the history of France. It is located in Lémeré (Indre-et-Loire department), relatively close (about 10 minutes by car) from the more famous one of the castles of the valley of the river. Loire-Chinon and 60 km south-west of the city of Tours.
The castle dates back to the 13th century, when it was a simple fortified feudal estate. It consisted of a walled donjon with four round towers at the corners.
On May 29, 1418, in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War, Pierre de Beauvau, one of the courtiers, helped the then crown prince Charles to escape from Paris occupied by the Burgundians. Later, Charles VII, who became king, thanked his faithful vassal and instructed him to perform the duties of his own valet. Later, Pierre married a wealthy heiress, as a result of which the castle of Rivau ended up in his property. The castle was located in a strategic place – the border of three regions: Poitou, Touraine and Anjou. Apparently, the name “Rivau” comes from here – in the old French Rivaudiere – “border”.
In 1429, the famous French warrior Joan of Arc came to the castle to buy horses for her army.
The de Beauvau family was related to the family of the Dukes of Anjou.
In 1438, Anna de Fontenay brought the castle as a dowry when she married Pierre de Beauvau, the first valet of Charles the Seventh.
In 1442, Pierre received permission to build a fully fortified castle. According to some researchers, Rivau was one of the first castles of the Loire Valley. It was then that Pierre radically rebuilt the castle – he erected a donjon, a drawbridge, dug a dry moat, built up mashikuli (mounted loopholes) and punched loopholes for cannons in the wall, which at that time had already become widespread throughout Europe. However, no one has ever attacked or stormed the fortress of Rivau.
The Beauvau family owned the castle until the end of the 17th century. The coat of arms and the motto of the de Beauvau family – “Without return” with two deer on the sides. Richelieu’s sister Françoise was married to Jean de Beauvau. When their daughter Lorraine became a princess in their family, the de Beauvau family left Tourrain. Then de Beauvau became princes of Lorraine.
Pierre de Beauvau himself died in the battle of Castillon in 1453, which ended the Hundred Years’ War between England and France (1337-1453).
1454 – Isabella de Beauvau married Prince Jean 2nd de Bourbon and thus became related to the royal dynasty.
In 1510, a descendant of Pierre de Beauvau, François, captain of the French army after a succession judgment, built the fundamental stables. He himself later died in the battle of Romagna (near Fort Bayard on April 30, 1524). During the reign of King Henry III, these stables received the status of royal and since then the name Francois de Beauvau has been associated with the official supply of horses to the court of King Francis the First.
1550 – Gabriel de Beauvau took out a loan in order to rebuild a new castle building on the security of his own property. The specificity of the castle was that for the first time in history the stables were designed by an architect who developed his own innovative style.
1768 – Marquis Michel – Ange de Castellane (de Castellane) bought Rivau, but, because. he was already the owner of the castle of Villandry, he was not very interested in the newly acquired property.
Until 1796 the castle remained in the possession of the de Beauvau family.
Interestingly, the castle is mentioned in the famous satirical novel by Francois Rabelais “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, in which Captain Tolmer receives the castle as a gift in gratitude for the victory over King Picrochol.
Then Rivau gradually began to fall into disrepair, it was a country estate, a farm, an artist’s home.
At the turn of the 19th – 20th centuries. the sculptor-decorator Alphonse de Montsel de Perrin lived in the castle. He achieved that Rivau was included in the list of historical monuments of France.
In 1918 Rivau was declared a historical monument.
From 1960 to 1992 the artist Pierre-Laurent Lives lived in the castle (according to other sources, the artist Pierre-Laurent Brenaud).
In 1992, the castle, which was in a very deplorable state, was bought by Messrs. Eric and Patricia Legier, who are its current owners.
After 8 years of restoration, Rivau Castle became available for tourists and lovers of antiquity. Address: 9 Rue du Chateau, 37 120 Lemere FRANCE
The castle houses a fairly solid collection of works of art from the Middle Ages to the present day, the premises are fully furnished with antique furniture. The real decoration of the castle is the collection of majolica. Frescoes by Italian and Flemish painters of the 15th century have been preserved on the walls and ceiling.
A park. Gardens
The main attraction of the castle are its 12 gardens, where 450 varieties of roses and more than 200 varieties of irises grow. It is significant that in 2003 the breeder Andre Eve grew an apple-scented rose here and named it after the garden – Chateau de Rivau.
On an area of 6 hectares there are 12 (!) beautiful gardens included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are some of them: “The Enchanted Forest”, “The Garden of Giant Vegetables” (pumpkins, zucchini, cabbage, etc. grow here), “Blossoming Meadows”, “Garden of Paradise”, The “Boy with a Thumb” Path (growing along it yellow and orange roses), Aroma Path, Secret Garden (English roses), Alice’s Labyrinth (Lewis Carroll world), Love Potion (calming sage, sulphurous mandrake, fragrant red roses – incl. ” Charlemagne” and “Dark Rose” by David Austin), Princess Rapunzel’s Garden (named after the rapunzel flower, i.e. simply valerian), “Enchanted Paradise” (collectible vintage apple, cherry, medlar and almond trees, around which roses curl), “Magic Forest and the World of the Elves” (bushes trimmed to look like various fabulous creatures, as well as large collections of bulbous flowers), Truffle Grove (an oak grove in which truffles are grown), as well as “Fleeing Forest” (here giant legs are in various positions). In addition, it should be noted the fence of “Lilies in Love” (very rare varieties of lilies, Madonna lilies, etc.) and the composition of the Flower Hill Family, which lives on a chessboard made of terracotta grass (peacocks walk here).
The Visit to Rivau Castle and the Gardens
The castle and its gardens are great places for families, lovers and scouts to explore flowers and plants.
You can get here on your own or by ordering a “Taxi in Paris and Nice” – individual (or small group) tour from Paris to the Loire Valley with a visit to this castle in the trip program.