Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sancerre, France - June 10, 2011

Our 2011 French tour was loosely based on a book called "The 100 most Beautiful Villages in France". The visit to Druyes-les-Belle-Fontaines had been a little unsettling in this regard since the book had completely missed the castle and its appurtenances - a key part of the experience.
Sancerre too, was somewhat disappointing. True, it is old and has played a part in much European history but it is somewhat drab having endured a utilitarian makeover while the main square has been transformed into a curious sidewalk cafe-like dais.
A natural 700 feet high fortress, Sancerre was a feudal possession of the Counts of Champagne who built a chateau on the hill in 1152 complete with ramparts to protect the city. The fortified city repelled the English forces twice during the Hundred Years' War but much of the surrounding area was destroyed by the forces of Edward, the Black Prince.
A mansion in the style of Louis XII was built on the ruins of the original Chateau in 1874 by Mlle de Crussol d'Uzès which, during World War I, became the site of a military hospital. The population of Sancerre has declined steadily over the past two centuries, from 2500 in 1810 to less than 1700 today. More pictures and commentary here.

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