At the beginning of the 2000s, the Departmental Council of Indre-et-Loire, which owns the Royal Fortress of Chinon, decided to launch a major project to modernise the monument. New parts of the Fortress were opened to visitors and a contemporary building was built to house the entrance area, a gift shop and a space for temporary exhibitions. Restoration work began on the ramparts and the towers. The royal lodgings, having been in ruins for 200 years, were fitted with a new framework and a roof.
With the completion of the restoration work, the Royal Fortress of Chinon could then offer its visitors a new trail that changes regularly to meet public expectations.
The now-restored Royal Quarters are used for performances and museum exhibitions:
- Two rooms are devoted to the history of the fortress, with 3D reconstructions, scale-models and archaeological collections taken from recent excavations.
- Two rooms are dedicated to Joan of Arc, with an exhibition of original artefacts from the 18th to 20th century (bronze statues, pottery, etc.). An extensive iconographic collection features the various sides to this heroine over the centuries.
- Several crossbows, a suit of armour and helmets give a flavour of war in the 15th century.
- In a room, a film illustrates an important period in the fortress' history through the eyes of key figures like Henry II Plantagenet, Joan of Arc and Charles VII.
Revisit the chambers of Charles VII at the Royal Fortress of Chinon. Charles VII has two chambers, each with a bed and antechamber, where scenes from public and political life were played out and where the King gave audiences and received ambassadors. In the private bedroom, where you stand, there are comforts for more personal needs like a private heated chamber and toilets.
Reconstructing the furnishings in Charles VII's private chamber took considerable effort, combining documentary research as well as input from artists and craftspeople. A bed, (arm)chair, chest, table and bench were recreated for the room.
2021 Novelty: visite Henry and Eleanor's bedchamber!
In the 12th century, the bedroom of king Henry II of England and his spouse Eleanor of Aquitaine was in the now gone Saint George Fort palace.
The latter was composed of private rooms, like bedrooms (Camera) and a hall for public meetings (Aula). Its reconstitution can be seen in the Histopad and is well worth a visit!
The bedchamber, scientifically recreated, is made up of a bed and its rich textile embellishment, two seats, two chests and a table. The counterpane, recreated for the occasion, is inspired by a fragment of an authentic 11th-12th century fabric, preserved in Chinon's museum (Le Carroi).
Craftswomen and craftsmen at work : All those pieces of furniture were created as well as handmade by the cabinet-making Tancoigne, based on a study of Cécile Lagane - doctor of medieval archeology, specialized in medieval furniture and material equipment. The silk-decoration, stylized plants and animals, was accurately recreated and woven by the Roze silk workshop. This local and traditional textile producer, founded in 1470, specializes in the manufacture of silks for high-end furnishings.
The top floor in the Clock Tower has an ancient mechanism that once made the bell ring in the 14th century! A Zoetrope is used to explain the bell-ringing process. This unique device creates optical illusions which you can try out for yourself.
Interactive tour with the HistoPad, travel back to the Middle Ages! Available in 9 languages
To accompany you on your visit, a guide booklet is available in the entrance building of the Fortress.