On the way to our next port of call, Montrichard, we paused at the pretty little village of Verteuil sur Charente. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have stopped at Archiac the previous night but, instead, continued to Verteuil. There’s a half decent aire where we could have overnighted and we counted no less than three restaurants in the village, all of which appeared to have been open the previous evening. Great thing, hindsight.
Three restaurants may seem a lot in a village of less than 700 inhabitants but this is a tourist spot (it’s a Plus Beau Village de France); it’s church, the Eglise Saint Medard, is on the Tours to Santiago de Compostela Camino and; if that’s not enough, one of my favourite chefs (James Martin) visited Verteuil as part of his French Adventure TV series. Now, he could inspire anyone to open a restaurant.
We parked up on a decent sized village car park, underneath the Eglise Saint Medard, on the banks of the River Charente. There were some fine views in both directions along the river but especially up towards the chateau.
The village is dominated by the Chateau de Verteuil which was built by the Rochefoucauld family in the 15th century on the site of an older 12th century castle. Unfortunately, we were unable to access the castle, perhaps because the castle was recently sold. One hopes it’s closure is temporary but, meanwhile, it’s a pretty enough building on the outside with it’s imposing conical towers and slate roofs.
Verteuil (pronounce Ver-toy) is a small village totally deserving of it’s inclusion in the list of Plus Beaux de Villages de France. It’s simply full of biscuit tin photo opportunities and nowhere more so than from the town bridge.
That’s the view looking south from the town bridge…
… and that’s the view looking north from the town bridge.
To the north of the bridge is the Chateau de Verteuil and, just in front of the castle, an old flour mill now a cafe/restaurant, Le Moulin de Verteuil. This cafe/restaurant has two delightful terraces overlooking the castle and a weir. These terraces make for some of the best photo opportunities in the village and in hindsight I wish we had stopped there for something to eat. I’ve since read that the mill still produces sufficient flour for the restaurant to make their own bread and cakes.
That’s Le Moulin de Verteuil. At the time we passed I didn’t realise this is a cafe and restaurant. I thought they were just offering dinners or we would have stayed for something to eat.
Beautiful little streets and lanes…
… and a favourite view of the church with a river washhouse in the foreground.
That last photograph prompted me to head off up to the village’s 12th century Romanesque church, the Eglise Saint Medard. The church, whilst impressive on the outside, is relatively plain inside except there is a chapel holding a real work of art, the Mise au Timbeau, by the French Renaissance sculptor Germain Pilon.
A couple of photos of L’Eglise Saint Medard…
… and inside, the Mise au Tombeau by Germain Pilon
The Mise au Timbeau is a life sized representation of the entombment of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion, with seven terracotta figures laying the body of Christ to rest. Pilon was the favourite sculptor of Catherine de Medici and some of his work is held in Le Louvre.
The only other thing I learned about L’Eglise Saint Medard is that Saint Medard (sometimes Medardus) was a Bishop of Noyon who became the patron saint for weather, vineyards, captives, prisoners and peasants. Don’t ask me why or how.
And so to Montrichard.