Richelieu, a geometric city

Richelieu, a favor from the King

It was 1631, and Louis XIII decided to thank his minister, Cardinal de Richelieu. He therefore did him a favour by erecting "a village enclosed by walls and ditches and building a hall" with the mission, too, to establish four annual fairs and two markets per week, a source of income, of course.

It was therefore a question of building a vast castle on the site of the family property, commensurate with its importance, and, frankly, what we would call today "a new city"! And yes, it was necessary to accommodate the minister's court and his various administrations.

All this on nearly 500 hectares, almost at the crossroads of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou! And a construction site that required the work of about 2000 workers.


Richelieu, a geometric "new city"

Richelieu is the only example in France of 17th century urban planning, rely on the regularity and symmetry of the lines. The objective is to make it a kind of ideal city, perfectly organized, rational.

It forms a vast rectangle measuring more than 700 metres by 500 metres, surrounded by ramparts, which are themselves bordered by moats. We enter this rectangle through three monumental gates. There is a fourth one, but it is simply a dummy: it is only there to respect symmetry!

The main avenue that crosses it from one end to the other is lined with private mansions that immediately show that they are similar. Indeed, initially, they all had to be built according to standard plans! Basically, he invented the subdivision! This has not been completely respected, but as you walk along this "Main Street" you will notice, on the plaques at each door of each private mansion, that it is the names of a very small number of architects who keep coming back. It was a "deal": the city did not pay taxes, and the building plots, equal and symmetrical, were free, provided that they were built within two years according to the "plans and specifications filed with the city clerk's office".
At each end of this "Main Street", there is a square place! The South Square, which was called, of course, "Cardinal's Square", and which is now more simply called "Market Square", we find the church and the halls, opposite, and the town hall which was formerly the courthouse.


The activities of the Richelieu hall

The hall is magnificent, with an exposed framework of large beams that is really worth a visit. Try to spend Friday morning, food market day, or the second and fourth Monday of each month, fair days. You can also go "hunting" on every holiday of the year, since a large flea market is then set up there.


Richelieu Town Hall
1, place du Marché
37120 Richelieu
Phone : 02 47 58 10 13




To go further....


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Une biographie comme le plus passionnant des romans, comme une aventure dans un univers d'intrigues et de complots, de haines tenaces et de guerres interminables. " Florence Dalmas – Le Dauphiné Libéré
Richelieu : L'ambition et le pouvoir

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A la lumière de documents inédits, Michel Carmona dresse un portrait approfondi de ce grand homme d'Etat - l'une des figures les plus importantes de l'histoire de France.
Louis XIII et Richelieu La Malentente

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Dépaysement garanti, dans une époque qui a ses valeurs propres, bien loin des nôtres. Le récit, solidement documenté, n'est pas un roman. Rien n'y est inventé. Mais la présence de Simone Bertière y est sensible parce qu'elle y tient le rôle d'enquêteur. On s'y associe avec d'autant plus de plaisir qu'elle n'a rien perdu de son talent de conteuse et son humour.
La France de Richelieu

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