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Report 2029: France 2012 Part 1 - The Loire Valley

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2012

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Page 28 of 33: To the South - Palluau-sur-Indre

photo by MAW

St Roch

The village is dominated by the Château de Palluau-Frontenac which is built on top of a hill. New owners are renovating it and it opened to public for first time two years ago. They are very proud of the strong links with Quebec and are promoting this as a way of making the place different to the other Loire Châteaux.

Louis Buade de Frontenac, Count of Palluau was commissioned by Louis XIV to be Governor of New France. As well as developing the fur trade, he had to maintain peace between the Indians and French settlers. In 1690, he prevented the English from taking Quebec. There are reconstructed scenes of the lives of the 17thC settlers in the park.

The defensive gateway leads into a small courtyard area with the ticket office and old buildings built inside the wall. The square tower dates from the 13thC. The rest is 16thC, built once the need for defensive and military action had ended.

The village of narrow streets, steps and old stone houses tumbles down the hillside from the Château. The best views are from the camp site to the south, just across the river.

There is a parking in a large parkland area with horse chestnut trees off the D15 to the north east of the center of the village.

St Laurent Priory is a rather nondescript building on the main street tucked between shops and houses. The priory dates from the 11thC and the frescoes in the crypt are 12thC. After the Revolution, the priory was turned into three dwelling houses and the frescoes covered with paint. It is now owned by the town council. Unfortunately it was shut for renovation.

The parish church, Église Saint-Sulpice is just below the château. It was originally dedicated to St. Sebastian in the 12thC and became the collegiate chapter of Sainte Manoulde (Ste Ménéhoulde) in the 13thC. It became the church of St Sulpice in 1801.

From the outside it is an uninspiring building with buttressed walls and a small offset tower with a pointed roof. I was beginning to feel this was not going to be one of our better visits.

Entry is through the west doorway which has a small carved portico above it. On the northwest corner is a statue of (presumably) St Sebastian. The building is 12thC with 15thC choir stalls with misericords and polychrome statues from 15th, 16th & 17thC. These are delightful and fully justified our visit.

The inside of the church is plain with a beautifully vaulted ceiling with carved bosses in the chancel. Side pillars in the nave support the ribs of the vaulted ceiling and have a narrow carved frieze at the top. There is an old wooden balcony above the door reached by a stone staircase. Inside the doorway on the south wall is the remains of a fresco of a knight kneeling in prayer wearing a red tunic with two lions on the front. On the south wall is a black band with the remains of the arms of the de Beauvillier Family. These were a seigneurial privilege to commemorate the death of a member of the family (a bit like hatchments).

Two beautifully carved wooden screens separate the transept from the nave. That on the north side has linen-fold panels at the base separated by barleycorn twist pillars. Above are panels with feathers and more pillars. Above these are five carved panels. The outer two have the initials h and F joined by a knot. Inside are panels with a jester and foliage. The center panel has two cherubim with a lovers knot. Above is an open pointed arch supported by three rows of pillars. The screen on the south side is similar although in less good condition. It has h and F initials on one end but at the other end is a carving of two very hairy figures.

At the end of the north transept is a stone altar with a crest carved on the bottom and a statue of the Virgin and Child. There are two old painted statues above. On the floor are decorative terracotta tiles dating from the 15thC. The south transept chapel has a massive stone altar with a small host box and shelves. Above is a modern statue of the Virgin Mary and a modern stained glass window.

The carved stone high altar has barley corn twist pillars on the base with a design of feathers and a cross on a blue background. The small retable has carved shelves on either side of the host box. This has a gilt cross on the door. Above tall narrow pillars support a carved spire. Underneath this is an elaborately carved crucifix. There are five windows in the chancel. The center one has Christ in Majesty with two saints. On the left is a window with St Joseph and beyond a window made up of pieces of old stained glass. On the right is a window with St Solangia. The far window was covered with polythene.

Between the windows there are polychrome statues standing on a carved pillar base with a carved canopy above. From the left there is St Roch pointing to his infected leg with the dog bringing him bread. Next is St Sulpice. Then is a beautiful statue of the Vierge à la Colombe carrying the Christ Child. St Menehoulde (larger than the others) is holding a book. Next is St Valerie wearing a small crown and also holding a book. And finally on the far right hand side is St Jacques le Majeur.

There are several other old statues on the walls including Mary holding the baby Jesus, Christ with his hands tied and wearing a crown of thorns and also a Crucifix. In a small recess is a statue of St Theresa with marble ‘merci’ plates surrounding her.

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