Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is viewed as his magnum opus. Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, he is renowned for his multi-faceted characters. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well, his writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Jack Kerouac, Henry James, filmmakers Akira Kurosawa, Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, they continue to inspire other writers. An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting to the teaching style of his grammar school, his willful nature caused trouble throughout his life and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business.
When he finished school, Balzac was apprenticed in a law office, but he turned his back on the study of law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine. Before and during his career as a writer, he attempted to be a publisher, businessman and politician. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, includes scenes from his own experience. Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life due to his intense writing schedule, his relationship with his family was strained by financial and personal drama, he lost more than one friend over critical reviews. In 1850, Balzac married a Polish aristocrat and his longtime love. Honoré de Balzac was born into a family which through its industry and efforts aspired to achieve respectability, his father, born Bernard-François Balssa, was one of eleven children from an artisan family in Tarn, a region in the south of France. In 1760 he set off for Paris with only a Louis coin in his pocket, intent on improving his social standing. After the Reign of Terror, François Balzac was despatched to Tours to coordinate supplies for the Army.
Balzac's mother, born Anne-Charlotte-Laure Sallambier, came from a family of haberdashers in Paris. Her family's wealth was a considerable factor in the match: she was eighteen at the time of the wedding, François Balzac fifty; as the author and literary critic Sir Victor Pritchett explained, "She was drily aware that she had been given to an old husband as a reward for his professional services to a friend of her family and that the capital was on her side. She was not in love with her husband". Honoré was the second child born to the Balzacs. Honoré's sisters Laure and Laurence were born in 1800 and 1802, his younger brother Henry-François in 1807; as an infant Balzac was sent to a wet-nurse. When the Balzac children returned home, they were kept at a frosty distance from their parents, which affected the author-to-be significantly, his 1835 novel Le Lys dans la Vallée features a cruel governess named Miss Caroline, modeled after his own caregiver. At age ten Balzac was sent to the Oratorian grammar school in Vendôme, where he studied for seven years.
His father, seeking to instill the same hardscrabble work ethic which had gained him the esteem of society, intentionally gave little spending money to the boy. This made him the object of ridicule among his much wealthier schoolmates. Balzac had difficulty adapting to the rote style of learning at the school; as a result, he was sent to the "alcove", a punishment cell reserved for disobedient students. Still, his time alone gave the boy ample freedom to read every book. Balzac worked these scenes from his boyhood—as he did many aspects of his life and the lives of those around him—into La Comédie Humaine, his time at Vendôme is reflected in Louis Lambert, his 1832 novel about a young boy studying at an Oratorian grammar school at Vendôme. The narrator says: "He devoured books of every kind, feeding indiscriminately on religious works and literature, philosophy and physics, he had told me that he found indescribable delight in reading dictionaries for lack of other books."Balzac fell ill causing the headmaster to contact his family with news of a "sort of a coma".
When he returned home, his grandmother said: "Voilà donc comme le collège nous renvoie les jolis que nous lui envoyons!" Balzac himself attributed his condition to "intellectual congestion", but his exten
Château de Villandry
The Château de Villandry is a grand country house located in Villandry, in the département of Indre-et-Loire, France. It is known for its beautiful gardens; the lands where an ancient fortress once stood were known as Columbine until the 17th century. They were acquired in the early 16th century by Jean Le Breton, France's Controller-General for War under King Francis I, a new château was constructed around the original 14th-century keep where King Philip II of France once met Richard I of England to discuss peace; the château remained in the Le Breton family for more than two centuries until it was acquired by the Marquis de Castellane. During the French Revolution the property was confiscated and in the early 19th century, Emperor Napoleon acquired it for his brother Jérôme Bonaparte. In 1906, Joachim Carvallo purchased the property and poured an enormous amount of time and devotion into repairing it and creating beautiful gardens, its famous Renaissance gardens include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, vegetable gardens.
The gardens are laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges. In 1934, Château de Villandry was designated a Monument historique. Like all the other châteaux of the Loire Valley, it is a World Heritage Site. Still owned by the Carvallo family, the Château de Villandry is open to the public and is one of the most visited châteaux in France. Official website Castle of Villandry on Google Cultural Institute Château de Villandry - The official website of France Photos of Villandry
Subprefectures in France
In France, a subprefecture is the administrative center of a departmental arrondissement that does not contain the prefecture for its department. The term applies to the building that houses the administrative headquarters for an arrondissement; the civil servant in charge of a subprefecture is the subprefect, assisted by a general secretary. Between May 1982 and February 1988, subprefects were known instead by the title commissaire adjoint de la République. Where the administration of an arrondissement is carried out from a prefecture, the general secretary to the prefect carries out duties equivalent to those of the subprefect; the municipal arrondissements of Paris and Marseille are divisions of the city rather than the prefecture, so are not arrondissements in the same sense. List of subprefectures of France List of arrondissements of France
Château de Chenonceau
The Château de Chenonceau is a French château spanning the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It is one of the best-known châteaux of the Loire valley; the estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century. The current château was built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was extended to span the river; the bridge over the river was built to designs by the French Renaissance architect Philibert de l'Orme, the gallery on the bridge, built from 1570–1576 to designs by Jean Bullant. An architectural mixture of late Gothic and early Renaissance, Château de Chenonceau and its gardens are open to the public. Other than the Royal Palace of Versailles, it is the most visited château in France; the château has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. Today, Chenonceau in 2007 received around 800,000 visitors. In the 13th century, the fief of Chenonceau belonged to the Marques family.
The original château was torched in 1412 to punish owner Jean Marques for an act of sedition. He rebuilt a fortified mill on the site in the 1430s. Jean Marques's indebted heir Pierre Marques found it necessary to sell. Thomas Bohier, Chamberlain to King Charles VIII of France, purchased the castle from Pierre Marques in 1513 Bohier demolished the castle, though its 15th-century keep was left standing, built an new residence between 1515 and 1521; the work was overseen by his wife Katherine Briçonnet, who delighted in hosting French nobility, including King Francis I on two occasions. In 1535 the château was seized from Bohier's son by King Francis I of France for unpaid debts to the Crown. In 1555 she commissioned Philibert de l'Orme to build the arched bridge joining the château to its opposite bank. Diane oversaw the planting of extensive flower and vegetable gardens along with a variety of fruit trees. Set along the banks of the river, but buttressed from flooding by stone terraces, the exquisite gardens were laid out in four triangles.
Diane de Poitiers was the unquestioned mistress of the castle, but ownership remained with the crown until 1555, when years of delicate legal maneuvers yielded possession to her. After King Henry II died in 1559, his strong-willed widow and regent Catherine de' Medici forced Diane to exchange it for the Château Chaumont. Queen Catherine made Chenonceau her own favorite residence, adding a new series of gardens; as Regent of France, Catherine spent a fortune on spectacular nighttime parties. In 1560, the first fireworks display seen in France took place during the celebrations marking the ascension to the throne of Catherine's son Francis II; the grand gallery, which extended along the existing bridge to cross the entire river, was dedicated in 1577. Catherine added rooms between the chapel and the library on the east side of the corps de logis, as well as a service wing on the west side of the entry courtyard. Catherine considered an greater expansion of the château, shown in an engraving published by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau in the second volume of his book Les plus excellents bastiments de France.
If this project had been executed, the current château would have been only a small portion of an enormous manor laid out "like pincers around the existing buildings." On Catherine's death in 1589 the château went to her daughter-in-law, Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont, wife of King Henry III. At Chenonceau Louise was told of her husband's assassination in 1589 and she fell into a state of depression, spending the remainder of her days wandering aimlessly along the château's corridors dressed in mourning clothes amidst somber black tapestries stitched with skulls and crossbones. Henri IV obtained Chenonceau for his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrées by paying the debts of Catherine de' Medici, inherited by Louise and were threatening to ruin her. In return Louise left the château to her niece Françoise de Lorraine, at that time six years old and betrothed to the four-year-old César de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme, the natural son of Gabrielle d'Estrées and Henri IV; the château belonged to his descendants for more than a hundred years.
The Bourbons had little interest in the château, except for hunting. In 1650, Louis XIV was the last king of the ancien régime to visit; the Château de Chenonceau was bought by the Duke of Bourbon in 1720. Little by little, he sold off all of the castle's contents. Many of the fine statues ended up at Versailles. In 1733 the estate was sold for 130,000 livres to a wealthy squire named Claude Dupin, his wife, Louise Dupin, was the natural daughter of the financier Samuel Bernard and the actress Manon Dancourt, whose mother was an actress who had joined the Comédie Française in 1684. Louise Dupin was "an intelligent and cultivated woman who had the theater in her blood." Claude Dupin, a widower, had a son, Louis Claude, from his first wife Marie Aurore of Saxony, the grandmother of George Sand. Louise Dupin's literary salon at Chenonceau attracted such leaders of the Enlightenment as the writers Voltaire and Fontenelle, the naturalist Buffon, the playwright Marivaux, the philosopher Condillac, as well as the Marquise de Tencin and the Marquise du Deffand.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was Dupin's secretary and tutored her son. Rousseau, who worked on Émile at Chenonceau, wrote in his Confes
The Loire Valley, spanning 280 kilometres, is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France, in both the administrative regions Pays de la Loire and Centre-Val de Loire. The area of the Loire Valley comprises about 800 square kilometres, it is referred to as the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, artichoke, asparagus fields, which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. In 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites; the valley includes historic towns such as Amboise, Blois, Montsoreau, Orléans and Tours. The climate is favorable most of the year, the river acting as a line of demarcation in France's weather between the northern climate and the southern; the river has a significant effect on the mesoclimate of the region, adding a few degrees of temperature. The climate can be cool with springtime frost.
Summers are hot. Temperature and average sunshine time in Angers: The Loire Valley wine region is one of the world's most well-known areas of wine production and includes several French wine regions situated along the river from the Muscadet region on the Atlantic coast to the regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé just southeast of the city of Orléans in north central France. Loire wines tend to exhibit a characteristic fruitiness with crisp flavors. On December 2, 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the river valley, between Chalonnes-sur-Loire and Sully-sur-Loire, to its list of World Heritage Sites. In choosing this area that includes the French départements of Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, the committee said that the Loire Valley is: "an exceptional cultural landscape, of great beauty, comprised of historic cities and villages, great architectural monuments - the châteaux - and lands that have been cultivated and shaped by centuries of interaction between local populations and their physical environment, in particular the Loire itself."
The Loire Valley chansonniers are a related group of songbooks attributed to the composers of the Loire Valley and are the earliest surviving examples of a new genre which offered a combination of words and illuminations. A new Contemporary Art offer is developing all along the Loire River from Montsoreau to Orléans with such places as Château de Montsoreau-Contemporary Art Museum, CCCOD Tours, the Domaine Régional de Chaumont sur Loire and the Frac Centre Orléans, they are a rare association of Renaissance architecture with contemporary art. The architectural heritage in the valley's historic towns is notable its châteaux, such as the Château de Montsoreau, Château d'Amboise, Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Chambord, Château de Chinon, Château du Rivau, Château d'Ussé, Château de Villandry and Chenonceau; the châteaux, numbering more than three hundred, represent a nation of builders starting with the necessary castle fortifications in the 10th century to the splendour of those built half a millennium later.
When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux here, the nobility, not wanting or daring to be far from the seat of power, followed suit. Their presence in the lush, fertile valley began attracting the best landscape designers. In addition to its many châteaux, the cultural monuments illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment on western European thought and design. Many of the châteaux were designed to be built on the top of hills, one example of this is the Château d'Amboise. Many of the châteaux had detailed and expensive churches on the grounds, or within the actual château itself; the Château de Montsoreau is the only château to have been built in the Loire riverbed, it is the only one to be dedicated to contemporary art. Loire Valley portal Loire Valley world heritage site Loire Valley Chateau du Rivau Chinon Fortress Chateau de Montsoreau-Contemporary Art Museum Western France Tourist Board
Chinon is a commune located in the Indre-et-Loire department in the Region Centre, France. The regional area is called the Touraine, known as the "garden of France", it is well known for its wine and historic town. Chinon played an important and strategic role during the Middle Ages, having served both French and English kings. Chinon is in the Loire valley, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000; the historic town of Chinon is on the banks of the Vienne River about 10 kilometres from where it joins the Loire. Settlement in Chinon dates from prehistoric times, with a pronounced importance for both French and English history in the Middle Ages. At this period rivers were the main trade routes, the Vienne River joins both the fertile regions of the Poitou and the city of Limoges, is a tributary of the Loire, which acted as a traffic thoroughfare; the site was fortified early on, by the 5th century a Gallo-Roman castrum had been established there. Towards the mid 5th century, a disciple of St Martin, St Mexme, established first a hermitage, a monastery to the east of the town.
This religious foundation bearing his name flourished in the medieval period, being rebuilt and extended four times. The eventual complex contained a large and decorated church and a square of canons' residences. Closure and partial demolition during and after the Revolution of 1789 have damaged this once important church; the imposing second façade still stands, with its nave dating from the year 1000 A. D, its important remains have been restored as a cultural centre. During the Middle Ages, Chinon further developed under Henry II; the castle was extended, becoming his administrative center and a favourite residence. It was where court was held during the Angevin Empire. On Henry's death at the castle in 1189, Chinon first passed to his eldest surviving son from his marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard I the Lionheart. On Richard's death in 1199, it passed to the youngest of their children, John Lackland. King John would lose the castle in a siege in 1205 to the French king Philip II Augustus, from which date it was included in the French royal estates as the royal duchy of Touraine.
The castle in Chinon served as a prison for a time when Philip IV the Fair ordered the Knights Templar arrested in 1307. Jacques de Molay, Grand Master, a few other dignitaries of the Order of the Temple were incarcerated there prior to trial and eventual execution. Chinon again played a significant role in the struggle for the throne between the French and the English during the Hundred Years' War when the heir apparent, the future Charles VII of France sought refuge and installed his court in there in 1425; the province remained faithful to him and he made lengthy stays with his court there. In 1429, the 17-year-old Joan of Arc came to Chinon to meet and to acknowledge him as the rightful heir to the throne. After interrogation to prove she had been sent on a mission from God and with the men and arms accorded to her, she would go on to break the siege of Orleans in June and open the way for Charles to be crowned at Reims in July 1429; the meetings in Chinon with the future Charles VII of France and his acceptance of her was the turning point of the war, helping to establish both firmer national boundaries and sentiment.
Chinon served Louis XII as he waited for the papal legate Caesar Borgia to bring the annulment papers from Jeanne de France, enabling him to marry Anne of Brittany in 1498, thus solidifying an more coherent French territoryAt the end of the 15th century, the commune of Chinon was the birthplace of the writer, humanist and satirist François Rabelais, author of Gargantua and Pantagruel amongst other works, which figure in the canon of great world literature. The region is the scene of these fantastic and observant adventures. From the sixteenth century, Chinon was no longer a royal residence, in 1631 it became part of the estates of the Duke of Richelieu, who neglected the fortress. Apart from townhouses and convents that were built, the city changed little up to the Revolution. In the 1820s, the fortifications were pulled down and the banks of the Vienne River were opened up to the outside. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, Chinon grew to the east, towards the railway station, to the north on the hill.
The historic centre was registered as a conservation area in 1968, since that time has been undergoing restoration in order to preserve its historic and architectural identity. Chinon is located in the heart of the Val de Loire, 47 km southwest of Tours and 305 km south west of Paris, it extends on both the banks of the Vienne River, with the historic town on the northern bank, at the foot of the medieval castle. Chinon's importance derives in great part from its geographical position, located on the Vienne river just before it joins the Loire. From prehistoric times, rivers acted as the principal trade routes, the Vienne not only joins the fertile southern plains of the Poitou and the city of Limoges, but joining the Loire, gives access to both the seaport in Nantes and the Île-de-France Paris region, thus providing not only a natural protective barrier, but a source of wealth; the natural rocky outcrop that dominates the northern bank provides not only a natural fort and defensive position.
Carved into the banks of the Vienne River, open to public visits, are the caves, or wine cellars, for Chinon's well-known Cabernet Franc-based red wines. Main article on the fortress, see Château de Chinon The historic town
Tours is a city in the centre-west of France. It is the administrative centre of the Indre-et-Loire department and the largest city in the Centre-Val de Loire region of France. In 2012, the city of Tours had 134,978 inhabitants, the population of the whole metropolitan area was 483,744. Tours stands between Orléans and the Atlantic coast; the surrounding district, the traditional province of Touraine, is known for its wines, for the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, for the Battle of Tours. The historical center of Tours is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the city is the end-point of the annual Paris–Tours cycle race. In Gallic times the city was important as a crossing point of the Loire. Becoming part of the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD, the city was named "Caesarodunum"; the name evolved in the 4th century when the original Gallic name, became first "Civitas Turonum" "Tours". It was at this time that the amphitheatre of Tours, one of the five largest amphitheatres of the Empire, was built.
Tours became the metropolis of the Roman province of Lugdunum towards 380–388, dominating the Loire Valley and Brittany. One of the outstanding figures of the history of the city was Saint Martin, second bishop who shared his coat with a naked beggar in Amiens; this incident and the importance of Martin in the medieval Christian West made Tours, its position on the route of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a major centre during the Middle Ages. In the 6th century Gregory of Tours, author of the Ten Books of History, made his mark on the town by restoring the cathedral destroyed by a fire in 561. Saint Martin's monastery benefited from its inception, at the start of the 6th century from patronage and support from the Frankish king, which increased the influence of the saint, the abbey and the city in Gaul. In the 9th century, Tours was at the heart of the Carolingian Rebirth, in particular because of Alcuin abbot of Marmoutier. In 732 AD, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi and a large army of Muslim horsemen from Al-Andalus advanced 500 kilometres deep into France, were stopped at Tours by Charles Martel and his infantry igniting the Battle of Tours.
The outcome was defeat for the Muslims, preventing France from Islamic conquest. In 845, Tours repulsed the first attack of the Viking chief Hasting. In 850, the Vikings settled at the mouths of the Loire. Still led by Hasting, they went up the Loire again in 852 and sacked Angers and the abbey of Marmoutier. During the Middle Ages, Tours consisted of competing centres; the "City" in the east, successor of the late Roman'castrum', was composed of the archiepiscopal establishment and of the castle of Tours, seat of the authority of the Counts of Tours and of the King of France. In the west, the "new city" structured around the Abbey of Saint Martin was freed from the control of the City during the 10th century and became "Châteauneuf"; this space, organized between Saint Martin and the Loire, became the economic centre of Tours. Between these two centres remained Varennes and fields, little occupied except for the Abbaye Saint-Julien established on the banks of the Loire; the two centres were linked during the 14th century.
Tours became the capital of the county of Tours or Touraine, territory bitterly disputed between the counts of Blois and Anjou – the latter were victorious in the 11th century. It was the capital of France at the time of Louis XI, who had settled in the castle of Montils and Touraine remained until the 16th century a permanent residence of the kings and court; the rebirth gave Tours and Touraine many private mansions and castles, joined together to some extent under the generic name of the Châteaux of the Loire. It is at the time of Louis XI that the silk industry was introduced – despite difficulties, the industry still survives to this day. Charles IX passed through the city at the time of his royal tour of France between 1564 and 1566, accompanied by the Court and various noblemen: his brother the Duke of Anjou, Henri de Navarre, the cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. At this time, the Catholics returned to power in Angers: the intendant assumed the right to nominate the aldermen; the Massacre of Saint-Barthelemy was not repeated at Tours.
The Protestants were imprisoned by the aldermen -- a measure. The permanent return of the Court to Paris and Versailles marked the beginning of a slow but permanent decline. Guillaume the Metayer, known as Rochambeau, the well known counter-revolutionary chief of Mayenne, was shot there on Thermidor 8, year VI. However, it was the arrival of the railway in the 19th century which saved the city by making it an important nodal point; the main railway station is known as Tours-Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. At that time, Tours was expanding towards the south into a district known as the Prébendes; the importance of the city as a centre of communications contributed to its revival and, as the 20th century progressed, Tours became a dynamic conurbation, economically oriented towards the service sector. The city was affected by the First World War. A force of 25,000 American soldiers arrived in 1917, setting up textile factories for the manufacture of uniforms, repair shops for military equipment, munitions dumps, an army post office and an Americ