Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Medicine Through the Ages in the Loire Valley.

A glimpse into the world of the medieval apothecary and a visit to a World War I hospital.

Apothacary, Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Apothecary, Chateau de Chenonceau.



This tour takes place at the Chateau of Chenonceau, where we will visit the 16th century apothecary and the World War I hospital. You will learn about Nostrodamus and his work as an apothecary here, see jars for storing medications and learn what some of the more mysteriously named ones were for and how they were prepared. You will also learn how the Menier family, owners of the chateau, set up a hospital that ran for the duration of the War, treating the seriously injured and introducing cutting edge new medical practices. Afterwards you are free to explore the rest of the chateau at your own pace.

Apothecary's balance, Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Apothecary's balance, Chateau of Chenonceau.



Many of my clients are medical professionals and I always try to include some medical history in my tours. Back in the day, becoming a doctor was one of the ways a bright young man from a humble background could become rich and influential. The way medical developments begin on the battlefield will be familiar to some of my clients, and the struggles to combat common infectious or insect born diseases. 

Stables, Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Galerie des Domes (stableblock), which houses the apothecary and the hospital.
 



Itinerary
*meet at the Sphinxes on the driveway in front of the chateau.

*visit the Apothecary.
*visit the Hospital.
*then you are free to explore the rest of the chateau and grounds independently.

Reconstruction of the WWI hospital, Chateau of Chenoncea, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Reconstruction of the WWI hospital at the Chateau of Chenonceau.
 



This tour can be customised to suit particular interests -- for example it can be lengthened into a full guided tour of the chateau. Just email me to ask!

WWI x-rays, Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The WWI hospital in Chenonceau was one of the first places to have an x-ray machine.



Other guides know very little about the history of medicine and I am proud to be able to make your tour more specialist and relevant to you. It is part of Chenonceau's forgotten history. 

Storage jars in the apothecary, Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
16C storage apothecary storage jars, Chateau of Chenonceau.

 



This is a walking tour. The paths in the chateau grounds are compacted gravel, the Apothecary and Hospital are on the ground floor of the stable block and have tile floors, no steps. 

 

Price: €75 for groups of up to 4 people. Admission tickets are not included.

Booking: email admin@tourtheloire.com at least one day before you wish to take the tour. Tours can be conducted on any day of the week, throughout the year, at a time to suit you.

About the Guide: I am Susan Walter. I specialise in story telling, the weaving together of this fact and that, this character and their relationship with another. It is a technique which brings alive the history of what is sometimes just stones to look at, but those stones may lead to something wonderfully evocative and provide a better understanding of the past. Much of the history of the Loire Valley is about important characters which you will have heard of, but there is a great deal of hidden history too -- characters who have been forgotten in modern times, motivations for deeds which seem inexplicable can become clear, how different life was then, but also how similar. If you want to know who would graffiti a royal chapel and why, and why it isn't who most guides will tell you it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to know about the history of bathing and personal hygiene, and how that isn't quite what you think it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to meet fascinating characters from history who really made a difference, often women, then take a tour with me.

Group of American students at the Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire,  France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A wonderful group of American physiology students who did this history of medicine tour with me.

English speaking, born and raised in Australia, I lived for 12 years in England, where I worked for the National Trust in their Historic Buildings Conservation Department, and now in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Loire Valley for more than a decade. I am an active heritage and nature conservation professional with experience of working with conservators and curators to care for historic objects and buildings, and with ecologists caring for our natural environment. Deeply embedded in the local scene I speak quite good French and enjoy life in a small village near some fabulous chateaux and lovely countryside. I'm always happy to talk about life in France and am friends with many wine makers and local food producers.

Friday, 26 November 2021

The Lives of Medieval Women in the Loire Valley.

Learn what they ate, how they kept clean, what they wore, their role in society, their education and status.

Tomb of Agnes Sorel, St Ours, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The tomb of Agnes Sorel.
 


This one and a half hour introductory tour focuses on the lives of three significant women -- Joan of Arc, Anne of Brittany and Agnes Sorel. Anne and Agnes were typical in many ways, but also extraordinary, through circumstance and personality. And there is no question that Joan was extraordinary through and through. All died young, despite their many priveleges. The tour takes place on the Royal Citadel of Loches, where both Anne and Agnes lived for a time, and Joan visited, in the 15C.

19C equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, Chinon, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
19C equestrian statue of Joan of Arc in Chinon.

I will go into the intimate details of their daily life and dispel many of the myths there are about the lives of medieval women. Two of the most pervasive misconceptions are that they had no power, and that they didn't bathe. You will learn the truth about how they navigated in what on the surface appears to be a man's world. Sometimes it's nuanced, sometimes it's the complete opposite of what most people believe today. I have been studying Agnes Sorel for years and although she is not known outside of France she rocks! 

Carved canopy in Anne of Brittany's oratory, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Carved canopy in Anne of Brittany's oratory, Loches.


Itinerary
*Meet outside the Porte Royale
(royal gate) of the Cité Royal (royal citadel), where you will begin by learning more about Joan -- how she came to be here, why she matters, how she changed history, and ultimately, how she was betrayed.
*Visit the Church of Saint Ours, on the Royal Citadel, where you will learn about Agnes Sorel, known as the Lady of Beauty, and King Charles VII's beloved mistress.
*Visit the Logis Royal (Royal Apartments), where you will learn a bit more about Joan and Agnes, and the sad story of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France twice over.
*Afterwards you have the opportunity to explore the lovely medieval town of Loches independently.

19C facsimile of the proceedings of the trial of Joan of Arc, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
19C facsimile of the proceedings of the trial of Joan of Arc.
 

This tour as a whole or partially, can be customized to fit your preferences - please inquire! 

Copy of Agnes Sorel as Madonna by Jehan Fouquet, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A copy of Agnes Sorel painted as the Madonna breastfeeding by Jehan Fouquet.
 

Duration: 1 hour 30 min.
Very occasionally the Church of Saint Ours might not be accessible, in which case we will do the session on Agnes Sorel in the Logis Royal.
 

15C Flemish polychrome statuette of of St Agnes, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
15C Flemish polychrome statuette of St Agnes, Loches.

 

This is a walking tour. Some streets on the Royal Citadel are quite steep and there are some steps at the church and the Royal Apartments. No spiral staircases though.
  

Television costume for Anne of Brittany, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Costume made for a television programme about Anne of Brittany, based on a known portrait of her.


Price: €100 for groups of up to 4 people. Admission tickets are not included.

Tableau depicting the marriage of Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII, Chateau of Langeais, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Tableau depicting the marriage of Anne of Brittany to Charles VIII, Chateau of Langeais.
 

Booking: email admin@tourtheloire.com at least one day before you wish to take the tour. Tours can be conducted on any day of the week, throughout the year, at a time to suit you.

Plaque commemorating the visit of Joan of Arc to Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Plaque commemorating the visit of Joan of Arc to Loches.


About the Guide: I am Susan Walter. I specialise in story telling, the weaving together of this fact and that, this character and their relationship with another. It is a technique which brings alive the history of what is sometimes just stones to look at, but those stones may lead to something wonderfully evocative and provide a better understanding of the past. Much of the history of the Loire Valley is about important characters which you will have heard of, but there is a great deal of hidden history too -- characters who have been forgotten in modern times, motivations for deeds which seem inexplicable can become clear, how different life was then, but also how similar. If you want to know who would graffiti a royal chapel and why, and why it isn't who most guides will tell you it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to know about the history of bathing and personal hygiene, and how that isn't quite what you think it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to meet fascinating characters from history who really made a difference, often women, then take a tour with me.

19C copy of a bronze bust of Charles VIII, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
19C copy of a bronze bust of Charles VIII, husband of Anne of Brittany.
 

English speaking, born and raised in Australia, I lived for 12 years in England, where I worked for the National Trust in their Historic Buildings Conservation Department, and now in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Loire Valley for more than a decade. I am an active heritage and nature conservation professional with experience of working with conservators and curators to care for historic objects and buildings, and with ecologists caring for our natural environment. Deeply embedded in the local scene I speak quite good French and enjoy life in a small village near some fabulous chateaux and lovely countryside. I'm always happy to talk about life in France and am friends with many wine makers and local food producers. 

Tomb of Agnes Sorel, St Ours, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Tomb of Agnes Sorel, Loches.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Meet a Medieval Church in the Loire Valley.

Choose from a number of unique historic churches for an introduction to their special features.

Wall paintings in the chapel of St Georges, Rochecorbon, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Wall paintings from several periods in the Chapel of St Georges, Rochecorbon.


 

I have chosen my favourite medieval churches in the Touraine Loire Valley and have designed a one hour visit for each of them which will allow you to understand and appreciate them more.

Effigy of Agnes Sorel, St Ours, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Effigy of Agnes Sorel, mistress of Charles VII, in St Ours, Loches.

 


Let me know which features interest you and I will describe them in more detail. You can also get an idea of each of them in the photos. I can't stress enough how unique each of these churches are, and how different from one another. A visit with me will give you the story behind each of them.

Tomb of the Babou family, St Denis, Amboise, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Tomb of the Babou family, St Denis, Amboise.

 


I have a background in heritage conservation and have worked on a number of church projects (currently the Chapel of Tous les Saints). These are important cultural heritage, now often left without a role as church attendance and religious belief declines. I can interpret the messages these buildings were originally sending and give you a glimpse of how they were used in the past. Some of the answers will surprise you. I'll also talk in some detail about how the wall paintings were made, why, and how they are conserved today. 

Detail of the Danse Macabre wall paintings in the Chapelle de Tous les saints, Preuilly sur Claise, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Detail of the Danse Macabre wall paintings in the Chapelle de Tous les Saints, Preuilly sur Claise.
 



Itinerary
*meet at the front door of the chosen church.

*visit the church and learn about its unique features, how they were made and why.
*you are then free to explore the environs independently (some churches are in villages, others are in the grounds of chateaux).

Graffiti expressing a Protestant sentiment in the Chapel of the Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
16C Graffiti expressing a Protestant sentiment in the Chapel of the Chateau of Chenonceau.
 



This tour as a whole or partially, can be customized to fit your preferences - please inquire! You can choose any one of the churches below. No particular dress code applies. 

Painted ceiling of the church in Lignieres de Touraine, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Painted ceiling of the church in Lignieres de Touraine.
 



*Lignieres de Touraine (painted ceiling depicting Bible stories)
*St Denis, Amboise (tombs of the King's cryptographers, painted carved stone)
*St Hubert, Amboise (superb carved decoration)
*Tous les Saints, Preuilly sur Claise (extremely rare danse macabre)
*St Ours, Loches (tomb of Agnes Sorel, the King's mistress)
*Private chapel, Chateau of Ussé (carved choir stalls)
*Private chapel, Chateau of Chenoneau (mysterious graffiti)
*Montresor (rare original stained glass)
*Mezieres en Brenne (medieval stained glass)
*St Georges, Rochecorbon (semi-troglodytic, medieval wall paintings)

Carving on the front of the church at Mezieres en Brenne, Indre, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Carvings on the front of the church in Mezieres en Brenne.
 



Duration: 1 hour.

Carving under a misericord in the chapel of the Chateau of Usse, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Carved misericord in the chapel of the Chateau of Ussé.
 


 
Occasionally churches will be unavailable at short notice (due to a funeral, for example). In most cases there will be an alternative I can offer, or I will arrange a refund.

Original 16C stained glass in the church in Montresor, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Original 16C stained glass in the church at Montésor.
 



This is a walking tour. A few churches have wheelchair access but not all. 

View of Montrésor with church, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
View of Montrésor with the church in the background.
 


 
Price: €75 for groups of up to 4 people. 

Chapelle de Tous les saints, Preuilly sur Claise, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Chapel of Tous les Saints, Preuilly sur Claise.



Booking: email admin@tourtheloire.com at least one day before you wish to take the tour. Tours can be conducted on any day of the week, throughout the year, at a time to suit you.

20C stained glass in the chapel of the Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
20C stained glass in the chapel of the Chateau of Chenonceau.


About the Guide: I am Susan Walter. I specialise in story telling, the weaving together of this fact and that, this character and their relationship with another. It is a technique which brings alive the history of what is sometimes just stones to look at, but those stones may lead to something wonderfully evocative and provide a better understanding of the past. Much of the history of the Loire Valley is about important characters which you will have heard of, but there is a great deal of hidden history too -- characters who have been forgotten in modern times, motivations for deeds which seem inexplicable can become clear, how different life was then, but also how similar. If you want to know who would graffiti a royal chapel and why, and why it isn't who most guides will tell you it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to know about the history of bathing and personal hygiene, and how that isn't quite what you think it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to meet fascinating characters from history who really made a difference, often women, then take a tour with me.

A conservator shows visitors medieval wall paintings in the Chapelle de Tous les Saints, Preuilly sur Claise, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Wall paintings conservator Corinne Tual talking to visitors about the Danse Macabre in the Chapelle de Tous les Saints, Preuilly sur Claise.
 



English speaking, born and raised in Australia, I lived for 12 years in England, where I worked for the National Trust in their Historic Buildings Conservation Department, and now in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Loire Valley for more than a decade. I am an active heritage and nature conservation professional with experience of working with conservators and curators to care for historic objects and buildings, and with ecologists caring for our natural environment. Deeply embedded in the local scene I speak quite good French and enjoy life in a small village near some fabulous chateaux and lovely countryside. I'm always happy to talk about life in France and am friends with many wine makers and local food producers. 

St Hubert's Chapel, Amboise, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.