Château du Rivau, Lémeré, France

The castle of Rivau is a fortress stately whose first foundations date back to the xiii th century. Located in Touraine in the town of Lémeré in the French department of Indre-et-Loire, the Rivau is one of the castles of the Loire and is the subject of classifications as historical monuments sinceJuly 1918 (castle) and August 1999 (common) as well as an inscription in February 1988(firm).

The Rivau combines elements of medieval architecture, Renaissance architecture, and contemporary art.

In xiii e, the Rivau is a strong house.

This castle of Touraine was fortified in the xv th century and humanized the Renaissance. It is both an impregnable fortress and a pleasant place to live.

Located in the heart of the Anglo-French conflicts, the castle of Rivau has a strategic position. It dominates the valley of the Vienne and the Veude, and thus makes it possible to supervise the great axes of communication.

At the xvi th century, the building that enclosed the quadrangle of the castle was destroyed. At the same time, the Gothic windows of the west facade of the castle were enlarged and adorned with sculptures. The forecourt acquired the prestigious stables.
In the xvii th century buildings south of the forecourt were reconstructed and covered with hollow tiles for the low slope roofs did not allow the installation of slate, which requires a steep slope. Local tradition used slate roofing for noble buildings and tile for utility buildings.

In the xviii th century, there was no modernization of the frame but the roof gardens of Rivau were surrounded by walls. A bridge, now disappeared, seems to have been thrown at that time on the west moat. The moat was filled. The very important lands of Rivau were planted with sainfoin and walnut trees, and 45 hectares of vines. These rich lands were coveted and the castle became “castle report”, no longer undergoing any changes. He kept all the characteristics of its construction.

In the xix th century, the chapel north of the “Secret Garden” was destroyed (1880). “Small wood” windows replaced the mullioned windows, destroying the medieval harmony. The castle became a place of storage of wheat and forgot its splendor of yesteryear.

The passage of Joan of Arc
The Rivau is renowned for its stables from the xv th century, while they are still in wood.

In the xv th century, the kingdom of France is in full conflict with the English during the Hundred Years War. One of the illustrious characters of this one is Joan of Arc. After recognizing the dolphin in Chinon in 1427, she crisscrossed France to join different seats.

Knowing its reputation for its steeds, Joan of Arc will stop at the Rivau and will come for fighting horses in 1429 before joining the headquarters of Orleans.

The influence of the Beauvau family
The Beauvau family is allied with the kings of France since the marriage of Isabeau de Beauvau with the Count of Vendome Jean de Bourbon, prince of blood.

From 1438, the Rivau is given in dowry to Pierre de Beauvau, first chamberlain of the dolphin Charles VII. He obtained the authorization of King Charles VII to strengthen the castle, thanks to his feats of arms. The fortified house Rivau castle thus became the xv th century. The reconstruction work began in 1443, the same year as the construction of the Jacques Coeur hotel in Bourges. The new castle in the shape of a quadrilateral was raised in a single jet. On the site of the current “Cradle of Greenery” was the independent chapel (we still see the shape of the vault on the wall of the castle). A now-defunct building closed the quadrilateral.

In 1510 François de Beauvau, lord of Rivau and captain of François I er, began to build monumental stables that will provide its stallions to the King. He died at the Battle of Romagna alongside Bayard in 1524.

His successor, Gabriel de Beauvau, decided, around 1550, to erect a very innovative building, influenced by the buildings that the great lords had discovered by accompanying the King to the Italian countryside.

From 1631, the Rivau was spared by Cardinal Richelieu who wanted to dismantle all the castles near the current town of Richelieu to recover the stones that would be used to build his city (just 10 km from Rivau). His sister Françoise Duplessis being married to Jean de Beauvau, lord of the place, the Rivau escaped the dismantling suffered by the castles of the neighborhood.

His descendant Jacques de Beauvau, marshal of the camps and armies of King Louis XIV left the castle of Rivau to go to the court of the Sun King. In 1664, he obtained the erection of the land of Beauvau in marquisate. Ruined by his lifestyle at the royal court, he borrowed 80,000 pounds Damond Mary, widow of Charles Croisset, Marquis Etiau, 1 st counselor to the king. Can not repay his claim, Jacques de Beauvau ceded the land of Rivau in 1697. However, he made the castle uninhabitable by removing all the doors and windows that he hid in the priest of Lémeré.

His cousin, Rene, was an adviser to the King. After the sale of the castle, the Beauvau left Touraine, engaged in the service of the King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine and became princes of Lorraine.

For two centuries, different owners succeeded each other: artists, marquis, etc. From the xix th century, the Rivau remained uninhabited and sank into oblivion.

In 1911, the commons were sold to the landowner. A wall was erected between the castle and the commons. In 1918, the new owner, the sculptor Moncel de Perrin obtained his classification to the Historical Monuments.

The painter and poster artist Pierre-Laurent Brenot becomes the owner of the castle in February 1961 and lives it until his resale to the current owners, Éric and Patricia Laigneau, in December 1992. They begin immediately the restoration works necessary for the restoration the castle, its outbuildings and gardens. In 2000, the site is open to the public.

When the castle was acquired in 1992, it threatened ruin. Mr. and M me Laigneau wished to restore the site.

The restoration in a few figures:

more than 5,000 m 2 of replaced roof surfaces
73 m 3 of oak necessary for the fitness of the frame of the only castle
148 new windows redone identically
In 1996, the French Heritage Society Grand Prize rewards the work done, followed by the Grand Prix de la Demeure Historique in 2001.


Integrated into the landscape of Castles of the Loire Valley, the Chateau du Rivau is a medieval fortress whose first foundations date back to the xiii th century. It was then a strong house. From this time remains the quadrilateral formed by the four walls and corner towers.

The castle Rivau is a construction of the 1450s. After the Hundred Years War, a first series of castles were rebuilt. The Rivau belongs to this first generation of buildings. The Beauvau have created a new type of stately home that anticipates more than a decade by its overall plan and its internal distribution, the most modern buildings of the time.

The Rivau Castle is both a medieval fortress and a Renaissance castle.

Fortress outside with its keep, its moat, its drawbridge (in operation) and its walkway, the castle is also a pleasure castle. Upon entry – topped the crest Beauvau family and their motto ‘Beauvau without departing’ – the visitor climbs the spiral staircase where many graffiti of the xv th century are to decipher.

In the vast rooms of the Rivau emerges a warm atmosphere. Everything takes part in this impression: monumental Gothic chimneys with whitewashed walls as we can see in Tuscany, the sumptuous Brussels tapestry to the cushions in front of the mullioned windows with cushions where visitors are invited to sit down to contemplate the gardens.

The hall of the big house
This great arms and banquet room was also used by the lord of Beauvau to arbitrate on the one hand the conflicts between peasants and on the other hand between them and the lord. At the head of a vast seigniory which extended on more than 1200 ha of arable land, vines, orchards and forests, the lord of Beauvau, master of the ground has in fact of the land and public justice, that is to say to say power over the earth and over men. The hall of the big house is populated by trophies collection, family memories. Under the Old Regime only the King and the great lords had the privilege of hunting because they were entitled to bear arms. The nobles had to obtain the authorization of the King to hunt on their own seigniory.

The workroom of the Lord of Beauvau
This vaulted sexpartite room called Plantagenet typical of Gothic architecture Angevin, recreates the atmosphere of the office of the lord. The richness of the fabrics palliated the modesty of the furniture because this one had to be above all transportable. The firm presents a collection of furniture and boxes of xv th, xvi th and xviii th centuries that constituted the bulk of the manorial home furnishings.

The feast hall
This room is marked by the Renaissance, because it keeps the traces of the frescoes of that time. At the xvi th century, all the castle walls were frescoed, says the abbot Bosseboeuf, Touraine historian of the xix th century that tells, in the garden of France (1902):

“The dining room appears to us in its former adornment. The walls are adorned with a very curious decoration of trellises of vines with genies sitting or lying under the antlers, whose inspiration is reminiscent of the ornaments of Raphael’s famous lodges. ”

Related Post

At the beginning of xx th century, the fashion of exposed stone in the decor was unfortunately clear all the murals Rivau. Only the fresco on the ceiling of Balthazar’s banquet room survived, concealed by this whitewash, which was methodically cut with a scalpel by specialized workshops and was honored during the restoration of the castle. The motifs of vineyards that intertwine decline the 4 seasons of the year. On the mantelpiece, one can discover the painting of a Flemish master who retraces the Biblical episode Balthazar’s feast.

The Ladies Lounge
This room is a tribute to the ladies and heroines of Rivau and elsewhere. There are cushions that allow women to sit near windows to embroider, weave, sing, play the harp and so on. The floor is terracotta floor tiles. The light power from west to east, can reveal the pink ocher walls, painted with limewash as was customary at the xv th century.

Jeanne d’Arc room
This is the only room remodeled in the xix th. It pays tribute to different representations of Joan of Arc at the xix th century. With the rise of different political currents, Joan of Arc was sometimes monopolized by them. So the vision of Joan of Arc at the xix th century when it sparked a national craze.

Even today, it is both a national trophy and a symbol of perseverance and obstinacy.

Stables stables
“The stables of Rivau are the most beautiful example of the evolution of the architectural treatment of equestrian buildings.” (In The stables of French castles “, Pascal Liévaux (published by Editions du Patrimoine, 2005). The specificity of the Rivau was that for the first time in the history of equestrian architecture, stables were designed by an architect who developed an innovative style. be erected vis-à-vis.

The stables, formed in L, are inspired by the architecture of the Second Renaissance. The stables of Rivau, arranged in L, housed on the ground floor about thirty horses, probably the mares on one side and stallions on the other. The floor, served by a staircase built in the thickness of the walls, served as storage and housed the grooms.

The horses lined up along the facing wall were attached to rings without stall separation. Feeders carved out of limestone stand against the walls.

Pierced with numerous openings, rigorously superimposed, they are connected by stone strips. Each bay is surmounted by bells treated in boss. The boss is the projection left on the facing of a cut stone intended to serve as an ornament. The turret on the trunk that encloses the staircase was a very difficult structure that could only be designed by the most experienced companions. The tufa rubble walls were covered with plaster and skilfully punctuated by the stone bands.

Glazed windows on the ground floor and on the north side prevented drafts and allowed the stables to be ventilated. The deep embrasures of the bays overlooking the courtyard flare inward, thus making it easier to diffuse the light.

The single-vessel, flat-bottom coffered vaults, set in freestone cut stone, are structured by three longitudinal strips whose center is carved with leather-shaped cartridges. Some wear royal insignia, others have not been completed.

The lower parts rise in large limestone apparatus to support the structure, while the upper parts are in small apparatus to facilitate the implementation of the cradle and lighten it. This difference in treatment reinforces the flaring effect at the beginning of the vault.

There is no document to know the name of the architect of the stables, however, several similarities with the work of Philibert Delorme might suggest that the architect was the designer of the stables

The Commons

Dormant and Renewal
The castle was separated from his common to the xx th century. At the time of its adjudication in 1911, the Rivau consisted of 63 ha, whereas it had 1200 ha during its period of glory. Over the years, damage had been caused. Among them, a concrete wall was built between the castle and its outbuildings, the wall was pierced to accommodate the combine too important to pass through the gate, the path of standing stones, also called calade, had been buried under 80 cm of earth.

Thanks to the restoration works of the current owners, the commons find their full meaning.

The tithe barn and the press
Among the buildings that melt the commons, the tithe barn and the press were important places in the Middle Ages for the village community that lived on the land of the lord. On the right entering the enclosure of Rivau, the tithe barn and the press are the witnesses of the life of labor of the domain, very important seigniory with the medieval and Renaissance periods, then fragmented and gradually fallen into escheat, until the recent reunification of the common at the castle and the restoration of the whole.

Royal Stable
Joan of Arc came to Le Rivau to fetch horses in 1429. At that time, war horses were already bred at le Rivau, where the current commons stand.

During the Renaissance period, François de Beauvau, the King’s chief squire, decided to build stables (most certainly in wood) where they had existed at the time of the Hundred-Years War. He died during the battle of Romagne, to the side of Bayard in 1524. His heir, Gabriel de Beauvau daringly undertook the erection of original stables, whose plans were directly inspired from the Italian architectures, knights had discovered while fighting for the King.

Until then the Rivau’s stables were only meant to be functional and had no ornaments whatsoever. One of le Rivau’s main idiosyncrasies comes from the fact that for the first time in the history of equestrian architecture, stables were designed by an architect who developed a pioneer style.

Fairytale Gardens
Since 1992, the new owners have implemented a major renovation campaign to prevent the ruin of the castle, barns and stables and restore it to its former glory. Today Rivau classified historic monument attracts visitors for its history but especially for those gardens to tales of fairies.

Indeed, the 14 gardens of Château du Rivau (labeled ” Remarkable Garden “) evoke a wonderful and fantastic world for the delight of visitors. The gardens of the Château du Rivau will also delight botanists with the collection of more than 400 roses created by breeders like David Austin and André Eve and its rare plants, in a very contemporary atmosphere thanks to the sculptures and exhibitions of artists living.

The 14 gardens are inspired by legendary tales and stories:

The Lavender Parterres
The Gargantua vegetable garden
Garden of Petit Poucet
The Cassinina
Loving wood
The alley of scents
Garden of Philters of Love
Garden of Princess Rapunzel
Secret garden
The labyrinth of Alice
The enchanted forest
The Paradise Orchard
The truffle
Fairy alley

The garden of Gargantua
The kitchen garden which is at the heart of the courtyard is a creation by Patricia Laigneau. It was thought of as a fanciful feast inspired by Master François, native of the region and who in Gargantua had offered Le Rivau to one of the captains.

The half-moon of Gargantua vegetable garden presents vegetables with gargantuan development planted on a plessis of raised chestnut. This technique was used to combat the ravages caused by wildlife in the Middle Ages. The pumpkins called Gargantua, Etampes and Touraine, highlight the pustulous Galeux Eysines, polished Potimarrons and debonair Turbans of Aladin. The vegetable garden of Rivau is the vegetable conservatory of the region Center and presents a collection of more than 43 varieties of squash.

There are many varieties of cabbages: Cabbage St Saens, Tuscan cabbage, red cabbage, kale, etc. Artichokes brought back from Italy by Rabelais, it is said, symbolize candlesticks.

The crinolines of vines shade the Potager de Gargantua. Each crinoline is inhabited by an old variety of vines from the region, now extinct since the Phylloxera attack. These vines are carried in stakes as described by O. de Serres in his Messager aux champs in the Renaissance.

Open museum of contemporary art
The Rivau wanted to make its gardens the setting of an open-air museum of contemporary art. Thus, several artists came to the castle to create permanent works. Works by Fabien Verschaere 6, Cat Loray, Jerome Basserode 8 Frans Krajcberg or Philippe Ramette present in the gardens of Rivau.

Restoration of the plant
At the end of the twentieth century, a 10-year restoration restored the building to a medieval fortification with drained moat, drawbridge, machicolations and loopholes.

The interior of the castle can be accessed from the courtyard via a spiral staircase. Above the entrance you can see the motto of the Beauvau family: Beauvau sans départir. The main beams of the building have the dimensions 80 × 60 cm and are thus larger in cross-section than in all other Loire locks. The required trees were 300 years old when they were felled.

The large hall is laid out with Touraine flints. The windows of the west facade were enlarged already in the Renaissance. The original vine leaf decor of the fireplace could be obtained.

Events and exhibitions
Since it opened to the public in 2000, several exhibitions have taken place in the different rooms of the Château du Rivau.

2009: Camille Claudel
2013: If the Art of adornment was told to me.

Every year, parties are organized:
Rendez-vous to the gardens
The pumpkin party
Equestrian games
The nocturnes
Sale of charity wine

Tags: FranceR