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Richelieu - an atmospheric walled town

If you like your French towns with atmosphere and history, you can't bypass Richelieu. This historic, walled town was commissioned by the powerful Cardinal Richelieu, and built by the acclaimed architect Jacques Lemercier in the 17th century. It was modelled on the bastide towns of the south, with protective walls, a grid pattern layout around a central square and even a moat. Sadly, the moat is no longer evident, having morphed into gardens over the course of time. However, the town is stunning and full of fascinating buildings and features. It's easily accessed from the UK, and as it is surrounded by extensive and unspoiled countryside, it is a haven of peace and a great spot for lovers of outdoor activities.

About town in Richelieu

Richelieu is steeped in history, but there are plenty of modern amenities too. Pretty much all you'll need for everyday life is on hand here, with local shops, supermarkets, post office and banks, bakers and a weekly market held every Monday. The town also has schools, doctors and sports/leisure facilities, with a public swimming pool and tennis courts. Just outside the town you can also find fishing lakes, walking trails and cycle routes.

Heritage to explore

As soon as you enter the town, you know there is going to be a good deal of heritage to discover. The church, the timber market hall, the walls and the old houses are all there to be explored, and there's also a great exhibition you can visit at 28 Grande Rue, should you wish to find out more about Cardinal Richelieu. A walk through the grounds of the Cardinal's Palace is also a very pleasant way of spending a sunny afternoon. Parts of the Palace remain, although most is now destroyed.

Visit nearby Chinon and watch horse shows at Saumur

Nearby places worth visiting include the pretty market town of Chinon, just a short drive from Richelieu. It's got a beautifully restored castle and ramparts, in addition to ruins of other castles. There's a lively weekly traditional market to enjoy too. Then there is Saumur which is a must see. This important city is home to the Cadre Noir, the world famous school of equitation, and jaw dropping displays of horsemanship can be seen at certain times. The city itself has plenty to see and do. It's also well worth driving to Poitiers, just across the border into Poitou-Charentes, for a visit to the educational theme park of Futuroscope. It's not just for the kids, though they will love it too!

How to get there

Poitiers and Tours both offer airports and railway stations making travel simple. Ferry fans should head for the port of Caen, to cut driving time to a minimum. Driving time from here is around three hours twenty minutes, though any of the northern ferry ports are within reach. If you're driving to Richelieu you'll find it along the D749, not far from the A10 motorway.

Property prices and availability in and around Richelieu

Richelieu is a prestigious and highly sought after location, so it isn't the cheapest place when it comes to buying property. However, there are some fabulous properties to be found near to the town, and current prices are more reasonable than you might expect.

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Richelieu AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Richelieu?

Richelieu lies to the west of central France, in the south-west of the Indre et Loire department.

Richelieu Property Map


Central Loire Valley Guide

Central Loire Valley Property Map


Indre-et-Loire Guide

  Indre-et-Loire Map

Population: 1,894

Access: By air: Fly to Tours or Poitiers. By boat: The nearest port is Caen. By rail: You can take a TGV to either Chatellerault or Tours. By road: The town is found from the A10 motorway, along the D749.

Economy: The economy includes commerce, agriculture and tourism.

Interesting fact: Richelieu was built on the order of Cardinal Richelieu by renowned French architect Jacques Lemercier.

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