The Les Plus Beaux Villages are each delightful in their own way, either for their cultural, historical or architectural uniqueness, but every so often we come across one that’s so perfectly charming it stands out above the others. So it is with the utterly lovely Montresor, where we’re lucky to spend the day.
Tucked in the heart of the Loire Valley, Montresor winds along the Indrois river, towered over by the Montresor Chateau. It’s an ancient area of inhabitation where troglodyte houses are still tucked into rock, sitting alongside their more “modern” half-timbered counterparts.
The Chateau is our first stop, and as luck would have it, we have it entirely to ourselves. Its history dates back to the early 11th century when a fortress was first built here, but it was Imbert de Bastarnay, an adviser to a series of French Kings, who built the Chateau in the 15th century in the Renaissance style.
The incarnation we see today is the work of Xavier Branki, a Polish count and friend of Napoleon III. He restored the Chateau in 1849, filling it with art and collectibles, turning it into a showcase.
The formal rooms are rather grand, presented in the manner of the day. There are a vast array of hunting trophy creatures to feel sorry for,
fireplaces dating back to the 15th century,
art from all over the world and travel mementos including this middle eastern saddle, studded with semi precious jewels.
The gardens are rather lovely too, dotted with sculptures and remains of the old keep.
Later, we walk to the Eglise Saint Jean Baptist, where the de Bastarnay family lie entombed
and take the stunning river walk “Balcons de l’Indrois. It’s a perfectly still day offering wonderful opportunities for reflective shots. It’s from this angle that the extent of the village’s beauty unfolds. We couldn’t have landed on a more perfect day if we tried.
The walk is dotted with informative boards detailing the area’s flora, fauna and history. This metal crossing was made by the Eiffel factory, they of Eiffel Tower fame.
We also see the old riverside laverie, which always make me very grateful for modern laundry practices.
Chris has a hard time dragging me away – the reflective shots have me entranced, but there’s time still to walk through the village again, on a different path, where we discover the market hall,
pick up a few supplies and meet some curious sheep.
Montresor. If you’re in the Loire, put it on your list. Utterly stunning.