Visit the Chateau Montreuil-Bellay in Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire
Montreuil-Bellay was constructed at the start of the 11th century on the site of an ancient Roman village. Unusually for castles in the Loire Valley, the chateau was constructed with a defensive purpose. The first construction was undertaken by the 'Black Falcon' a follower of the then King of France, Hugh Capet.
The castle subsequently played an important role in the region during the numerous battles between the English and the French, until the English were finally defeated in the region at the beginning of the 13th century.
The castle was captured by the English but subsequently reoccupied by the original owners - the Berlays. It was at that stage that much of the castle fortifications were constructed - substantial walls and tours that still surround the castle today.
Development of the castle continued during the centuries that followed, so the current building contains elements of various architectural styles. Although the current castle mostly dates from the 13th-15th centuries, we can also see earlier remnants of the fortified castle that stood here - especially the ramparts, and the underground parts of the chateau.
The castle was fortunate to remain occupied for much of its life, preventing the ruination and abandon that affected so many castles in France. At the time of the Revolution the castle was taken over (its owner was a staunch royalist) and used as a prison, before returning to private ownership in the early 19th century.
The castle is also well known for the wine produced in the grounds and sold under the same name, Chateau de Montreuil-Bellay.
Map showing location of Chateau Montreuil-Bellay