Chinon was the last, largest, and most historically well known Chateau I visited. Even if you know nothing of French history, I'm sure you've heard of Joan of Arc or Jeanne d'Arc. She came here to ask for her army, and this chateau was a fortress more than than a luxurious home. The old town is still preserved with its meandering cobblestone streets just as it was in medieval times.
The road where Joan rode her horse up to the castle has remained unchanged except for the handrails constructed for the many tourists.
Looking down from the top of the climb, you can see the medieval town looks as unchanged as the path leading away from it.
The fortress is meant to be imposing and cold, and it retains that ambiance even in this century.
As with every other fortress, it had several modes of protection, like a deep moat.
Only a small part of the fortress is restored, and it takes about 10 years to complete even a small section because artisans who specialize in doing things as they did hundreds of years ago do the work and it takes almost as long as it did 800 years ago.
This is how most of the site looked after all the battles.
You can see here where they restored the top part of this section.
There are models of what was originally built at various times.
Some towers are partially restored
but you can't climb some of the stairs yet.
Some parts are restored but still scary
as you descend into what used to hold prisoners four floors below ground!
Other towers held pigeons, more for food than correspondence!
The best part of the climb up
is the view
in every direction.
A modern elevator can take you to a nice view from the public parking lot.
Since this is a major attraction, they have videos in every room in English and French, explaining the history in fine cinematic form equivalent to a PBS show. The high tech self guided tour includes audio in whatever language you speak at certain points merely by passing your brochure over the black and white symbols. Admission is also discounted by 2 Euros if you've visited a neighboring chateau and retain the ticket stub, making it under $10 USD for entry.
There's a nice park like sitting area in the middle of the fortress.
Heading back down the road where Joan of Arc rode
I was reminded that no matter how many wars people fight for land, there are always flowers which manage to fight through the stone and want nothing more than sunlight.