Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Richelieu


In 1632, with permission from Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu (you may remember him from the "Three Musketeers", but he was a real and powerful person) built the original "Gated Village" for the rich and famous.  He also built himself a magnificent chateau, just outside the town, which did not survive the Revolution. Even after 200 years, he wasn't well thought of.

The gate house to Richelieu's gardens; the chateau is gone, but the gardens remain.
Being a modest man, he named the town after himself, Richelieu.  It is a walled rectangle with 4 gates.  At each end is a large square plaza;  shops and other public places on one, and the church anchoring the other.  Along the Grand Rue that connects the squares are 14 identical houses on each side.  Richelieu gave the land and built the houses for the rich and famous.  Each has a substantial gate large enough to drive a carriage into a courtyard with the house built around it, 3 stories tall.  Since the houses were identical, I assume the competition was to decorate them better than your neighbors.

One of the four gates into the village.
Plain or fancy?

The Market Hall, an essential part of village life, although I don't think they use this for their market days.


Rue Grande with the matching 14 houses on either side.
We enjoyed walking around Richelieu.  The gardens were closed, we think because of a violent storm that hit the area on June 17th.  It was easy to imagine how the houses on Rue Grande looked when they were new; shiny black slate roofs, beautifully painted stucco with the clean white of the limestone block trim for contrast.  The Market Hall has been refurbished with glass installed around the outside to make it more usable in all weather, as well as secure it for paid events.

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