The Château de Talmont

The castle at TalmontLe Château de Talmont can be found in the town of Talmont St Hilaire in the Vendée. It was founded by the Count of Poitou in the 10th century and the first records of the castle appear between 1040 and 1046. In 1138 the castle was in the possession of Joscelin de Lezay, who was attacked by King Louis VII in spite of the fact that it was considered invulnerable because it could be resupplied from the sea (in those days the sea would have lapped at the base of the castle). The castle was burnt by the King’s attack.

In the 1140s, Talmont passed on to the Mauléon family but in 1182, Richard I of England (aka Richard Lionheart and Richard Coeur-de-Lion) became the Lord of Talmont when it was passed to him as part of the dowry of his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine. Richard was a man who had a liking for hunting and the forests around Talmont were well stocked with game.  Also the local wine was very good so this was a place that he liked to visit as often as his busy life would allow. For these reasons Richard had the castle restored to make it fit for a king.

During the Hundred years War the castle was owned by the Princes of La Trémoille and was fortunately spared any damage. However, it did suffer a lot during the Wars of Religion. In 1628 King Louis XIII of France and Cardinal Richelieu ordered the demolition of the fortress to prevent the English and indeed any French Protestants from taking refuge there. Sadly, the site of the old castle was used for quarrying stone to provide new homes and subsequently became overgrown. Today, when you see the castle ruins you realize that they have been maximised and now provide an annual spectacle of medieval events and entertainment.  Château de Talmont Photo Gallery

Chess at the castle at TalmontIf you visit the castle in July or August you will usually find that there is a programme of medieval events, mainly in French but some in English. Costumed performers provide many different forms of entertainment including archery, calligraphy or riding a pony. It’s even possible to learn medieval dancing or how to play medieval games. On special days more dramatic entertainments are on offer and these can include knights on horseback jousting or in very realistic combat. Out of season, a tour of the castle is still fun – you can get quite high up with tremendous views of the local area. So if you’re on holiday in the Vendée Talmont is well worth a visit for both adults and children alike.

The big show on offer at the castle in the summer of 2015 was ‘The Epic of Richard the Lionheart’


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