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Montsoreau

 

Montsoreau is a French commune located in the department of Maine-et-Loire, in the Pays de la Loire region, in the Loire Valley classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. Montsoreau is classified among The Most Beautiful Villages of France and competed in the 2012 edition of the French television show presented by Stéphane Bern: Le Village préfé des Français.

 

History

It was in the sixth century that the first texts mention the Domaine de Restis. In 990 the count of Blois Eudes I transformed it into a stronghold, 10 years before the count of Anjou, Foulques Nerra, attached it to Anjou. We find a mention of Montsoreau in 1086 in its Latinized form [Castrum] Monte Sorello. The stronghold then belonged to Guillaume II de Montsoreau, vassal of the Counts of Anjou and husband of Hersende de Champagné. It was she who convinced her son-in-law, Gautier Ier de Montsoreau, to give Robert d'Arbrissel the land which he used to found the Abbey of Fontevraud. The forms Castellum Montsorelli, Mons Sorelli and finally Mons Sorel (Montsoreau, Monts Soreaux, Mont Soreau), are recurrent Latinizations that we find in charters, cartularies and other documents written in medieval Latin. The castle passed into the hands of the Savary family in 1213, (Renaud Savary 1325-1368, lord of Montbazon (Indre-et-Loire), Villandry (Indre-et-Loire)), Savonnières (Indre-et-Loire), Montsoreau (Maine-et-Loire) and Moncontour (Vienne), then to the Craon viscounts of Châteaudun in 1374. It then belongs to the Chabot de La Grève family and becomes the property of Jean II de Chambes during his marriage to the heiress in 1445. It was the latter who razed the fortress and had the current Château de Montsoreau built in 1450, in the Renaissance style.

In the Middle Ages, the village was divided into two parts: Rest and Mont Soreau (Monte Sorello). Rest corresponded to the district now clustered around the port and the current parish church, while Mont Soreau corresponded to the castrum fortified by Foulques Nerra. In the 19th century, the Château de Montsoreau became a warehouse where wheat from Loudunais, wines from Chinonais and those from Poitou were brought. Important markets were held there thanks to its very active port.

Montsoreau was, until the seventeenth century, a center of jurisdiction and the seigneury of Montsoreau extended from the Loire in the north, to Seuilly-l'Abbaye and the castle of Coudray in the south.

Its population of artisans, fishermen and small winegrowers had never exceeded 600 inhabitants. Then a boom in the exploitation of a building stone, the tufa, suddenly increased this number to more than 1000 inhabitants, maintained during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. This stone, easy to work, gradually ran out, and the stone workers left the region. The population thus decreased to stabilize again at around 600 people.

However, the galleries opened for the exploitation of tufa then made it possible to shelter cultures of mushrooms, known as "of Paris".

With the construction of the road from Saumur to Candes-Saint-Martin in the 19th century, the appearance of the village of Montsoreau was changed. Several white tufa houses, from the quarries on the hillsides, were built in Rest and in the old town.