The people of Montrésor are called Montrésoriens and Montrésoriennes and in 2008 their commune was awarded the distinction of being one of France’s “Most Beautiful Villages” (Les plus beaux villages de France). It is one of only 151 villages in France to have this award.
This small village has an elegant 15th Century Renaissance Chateau, with some original 11th Century fortress works. For what it’s worth, it is said to be Mick Jagger‘s favourite Chateau in the Loire. Now this is quite interesting as the people of the Touraine seem crazy for The Rolling Stones! Most weekends at my local bar, The Union Bar in Paulmy, there are blues-rock bands who do excellent concerts and their material draws heavily on early Stones’ releases. There is one particular local band, The Fortune Tellers, whose lead singer is, I genuinely believe, Mick Jagger himself.
There is a very old local tale associated with the village of Montrésor it goes something like this….. Montrésor got its name from a mysterious event concerning the 5th Century Frankish king, Gontran, the grandson of Clovis. Gontran is said to have fallen asleep beside the river Indrois. When he awoke he was told by a servant that he’d seen a golden lizard disappear into the nearby undergrowth. After searching the surrounding area a treasure trove was found! Hence the village name “My Tresure”.
The official derivation of the village name is far less interesting: Montrésor was formerly the Treasurer of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Tours. As a result it was named “Mons Thesauri” and later “Monthésour” and eventually Montrésor. Which story do you prefer?
Montrésor was originally attached to the Beaumont-Village parish, but it became an independent parish in 1700. It has a newly renovated gothic church (built 1519-41) and an amazing medieval covered market. But, most importantly from my point of view, the village patisserie sells the best macaroons in France – and that’s official!
Its village lavoir (communal washing place) on the river Indrois is well worth a visit. It is located at the end of a cul-de-sac, the Impasse de l’Huissette (the little door). There is a lizard motif on the ground a reference to the tale of King Gontran.
On Friday and Saturday evenings during the months of July and August the village holds its annual Nuits Solaire and is well worth a visit; with music and light shows along the banks of the Indrois (some images are included in the slideshow below).
I’ve visited a great number of excellent official and unofficial websites which give potted histories of the Chateau of Montrésor and you can read some of these by clicking on the links at the end of this blog. Generally though, they each start from the 11th Century, mention its transference to the control of the Plantagenets, the castle being sold to Henri de Bourdeilles in 1621 and then, at the end of the 17th century, to Paul de Beauvilliers in whose family’s ownership it remained until 1831. It’s curious that the period of the French Revolution (starting in 1789) is not mentioned. What was the relationship between the local population and the de Beauvilliers? So, come on all you lively Montrésoriens and sprightly Montrésoriennes, let the world know. What happened in your village during one of Europe’s most important social upheavals. I look forward to hearing from you all.
So what, you may ask is the Polish connection with Montrésor? Well, in 1849 Xavier Branicki become the owner of the Montrésor Chateau along with over 2,000 hectares of surrounding land. Xavier was a Polish officer who had accompanied Napoleon during the Crimean War. He was also a politician and financier and circa 1858 was involved in the creation of the bank, Crédit Commercial de France. He was the lord of the Manor of Montrésor and was its mayor between 1860 – 1870. Today the Chateau still belongs to the descendants of Count Branicki and, if you ever visit Montrésor, do look out for the winding street named after him.
End-note: is the Polish High Chamberlain, Xavier Branicki, referred to in the 18th Century love scandal in Casanova’s Adventures in Warsaw (pp357 onwards), the predecessor of the one who bought the Chateau of Montrésor in 1849? Click here to read the text.For further information on the Polish population in the Touraine just click here Want to find out more about Montrésor? Do visit: www.experienceloire.com/montresor.htm www.chateaudemontresor.fr/ www.37-online.net/gb/castles/Montrésor_gb.php www.tourisme-valdindrois-montresor.com/index.php?page=communes&id_commune=1