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“A fortress, so different to typical opulent chateaux”

Forteresse royale de Chinon
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Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour of Chinon from Amboise
Ranked #2 of 39 Fun & Games in Loire Valley
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The royal fortress of Chinon has been built between Xth century and XVth century. It has been restaured on XXIth century. Come and discover all of famous figures of the fortress : the Plantagenêts, the Kings of France Philippe Auguste, Charles VII and Joan of Arc. Full price : 8.50 € Reduced rate : 6.50 € Free for children less than 7 years.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“A fortress, so different to typical opulent chateaux”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 26, 2012

The chateau is locted above, but in the village of Chinon. There is a lift from the carpark at the tourism office up to the road where the chateau entrance is. There is a second lift to the reception area of the brand new, modern visitors centre. In conjunction with the large, flat grassed area within the chateau walls, it does make this one more accessible for disabled visitors, than most other chateaux. This chateau/fortress has stood witness to some pivotal times in French history, such as Henry 2nd and Eleanor of Aquitane, the Plantagenets, Richard the Lionheart, the Hundred Years War, the Knights Templar and Joan of Arc. The Royal Lodgings building houses terrific audio visual projections of re-enactments of periods of history. There is no dialogue, but dramatic music in darkened rooms, so is not language specific. In the later rooms of the tour you will see collections relating to Joan of Arc and her visit to the chateau. All of the towers can be climbed to appreciate wide views of the Chinon, the river Vienne and Loirve Valley. You could picnic on the large grassed internal area inside the fortress wall if you desired. This is not a pretty chateau (although every comfort for the modern-day visitor is present) but gives a true feeling of life of the past and its hardships as well. There are not endless rooms full of paintings and furniture.

Visited October 2012
2 Thank Anne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Brasilia, DF
Level Contributor
153 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Magnificent place”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 14, 2012

It's like you really were in a city oh the XII century. Very well preserved. I do recommend the visit. Marvelous view.

Visited October 2012
Thank Clicia-Leite-Antao
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Weston super Mare, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
332 reviews
183 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 263 helpful votes
“A little disappointing!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 11, 2012

You enter the castle through a new and interesting visitor centre where you can pick up a good guidebook. The castle battlements enclose a large area which presumably, in the past, would have had numerous wooden buildings in which the retainers, stables, etc. were housed but only the few stone buildings now remain and some are in a ruinous state. The guidebook has a useful addition; around the site there are symbols which match the one on the cover of the guide and by using the cover of the guide, you can activate audio and/or visual presentations which give an insight into the history of the castle - Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine (not to mention Joan of Arc) feature in some of the presentations. The rooms of the of the remaining buildings and the towers are empty of furniture but there are benches provided to rest and listen to the audio. The towers are worth climbing for the wonderful views over the surrounding town and the river valley. There is also a nice cafe in the grounds.

Visited September 2012
1 Thank CalBristol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
317 reviews
127 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 159 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 8, 2012

Chinon is a gem of a fortress and quite a large site. It has undergone extensive renovations, but can easily see why it was such a strategic spot for so many years.. The view is marvelous over the river/valley and the town. Certainly features Joan of Arc in a big way...worth a visit for sure.
I am no history buff, but find it so very interesting that the histories of England and France are so intertwined back in the day.

Visited September 2012
1 Thank suzabella60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Herentals, Antwerpen, Belgium
Level Contributor
182 reviews
155 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 270 helpful votes
“Lack of information, exaggerated use of technology”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 18, 2012

The royal fortress of Chinon is built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Vienne and the town. Little by little it was structured into three distinct parts, separated by dry ditches : Fort Saint George (east), Chateau du Milieu (middle) and Fort Coudray (west).

A first castle was built on site by Theobald I of Blois in the tenth century. Most of the standing structure can however be attributed either to Henry II Plantagenet (Fort Saint George and Chateau du Milieu ; mid twelfth century) or Philip August (Fort Coudray, early thirteenth century), continuous alterations being made until the end of the fifteenth century.

A first remark to be made is that the royal fortress of Chinon has suffered substantial damage due to lack of maintenance and abandonment from the seventeenth century onward.

Nothing remains of Fort Saint George above ground.

The entrance section of Chateau du Milieu looks battered (incomplete rampart ; corner tower reduced to a stump) and most of the buildings in the courtyard have disappeared.

The royal quarters boasted three wings arranged around a courtyard in the early fifteenth century. Only the south wing survives.

The rampart of Fort Coudray is incomplete and several towers are missing. Only the keep and two towers are more or less intact.

A second remark to be made is that unfortunately the information available to the visitor does not allow him to visualize what the royal fortress looked like in its heyday.

Both the excellent (free) guided tour (lasting about one hour) and the multimedia museum in the royal quarters provide ample information about the illustrious residents of the royal fortress but none tackles its architectural evolution and the use of its various structures.

The scale model that was on display in the past has been removed.

Audio in the buildings (to be activated with the chip in your tour booklet) focuses on stories, rather than providing information about their layout or use.

No real guidebook is available. The tour booklet is pictureless and only contains a map and minimal information.

A final remark concerns the exaggerate use of modern technology (film, touch screens, audio). I suppose the idea was to make the royal fortress appeal to youngsters but in my opinion it fails.

Given the number of visitors you cannot take your time to consult the various items of the computer menu. People are queuing behind you. Walking in on an audio or video fragment you always need to wait.

In conclusion, I would have made different choices given the budget of 14,5 million EUR spent on the restoration of the royal fortress between 2003 and 2010.

Instead of investing in modern technology I would have done with a scale model, information panels, a guidebook and / or an audio guide.

I would have restored or rebuilt (provided plans exist) the ramparts and towers and furnished the royal quarters, rather than turn them into a multimedia museum.

And as for my appeal to youngsters (and elders alike !) I would grant visitors access to the tunnels and secret escape routes running underneath the royal fortress.

Visited August 2012
4 Thank Iweinvanaalst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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